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Plant invasions in the rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, south-western Europe: A review

Aguiar, F. C. F., Ferreira, M. T.
Plant biosystems 2013 v.147 no.4 pp. 1107-1119
Arundo donax, Eichhornia crassipes, aquatic weeds, ecological invasion, ecosystems, flora, geographic information systems, humans, introduced species, invasive species, monitoring, remote sensing, riparian areas, rivers, wetlands, Iberian Peninsula, Portugal, Spain
Aquatic and riparian ecosystems are known to be highly vulnerable to invasive alien species (IAS), especially when subjected to human-induced disturbances. In the last three decades, we have witnessed a growing increase in plant invasions in Portugal and Spain (Iberian Peninsula, south-western Europe), with very detrimental economic, social and ecological effects. Some of these species, such as the giant reed (Arundo donax L.) and the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms-Laub.), number among the world's worst weeds. We present an appraisal of this invasive alien river flora and the most problematic aquatic weeds. We review various aspects of invasion ecology, including spatial and temporal patterns of invasion, species invasiveness, species traits of invasive weeds, and relationships between human disturbance in rivers and surrounding areas and invasibility, and contextualize them in overall state-of-the-art terms. We also acknowledge the use of IAS as bioindicators of the ecological quality of rivers, wetlands and riparian zones. Remote-sensing tools and Geographic Information Systems for detecting and monitoring IAS in Iberian rivers are presented.