Nomenclatural Change

Assessment of the invasive status of newly recorded cactus species in the central Tugela River basin

Michael D. Cheek, Neil R. Crouch
Bothalia | Vol 45, No 1 | a1953 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v45i1.1953 | © 2015 Michael D. Cheek, Neil R. Crouch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2015 | Published: 09 December 2015

About the author(s)

Michael D. Cheek, Invasive Species Programme, South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa
Neil R. Crouch, Biodiversity Research, Assessment and Monitoring Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa; School of Chemistry and Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Current distribution information on cacti in the Tugela River basin in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is scant. Accordingly, surveys in this region substantially improve our understanding of regional invasions by this succulent group. The identification of new or extended invasions requires (re)assessments of their invasion status and consideration of possible management interventions.

Objectives: To identify and collect cacti either not previously recorded or poorly known in the central Tugela River basin, and to assess their invasion status.

Method: A 40 km section of tertiary road was travelled through the topocadastral square 2830 CC, from the R74 main road northward across the Bloukrans River towards the Tugela River. Herbarium specimens were collected to vouch for new instances of naturalisation of cacti, the colony sizes of which were estimated and invasion stages determined. An applicable weed risk assessment model was used to determine the threat status of one cactus species not previously evaluated for South Africa. Based on the South African Plant Invaders Atlas database records and field observations, management recommendations were suggested for six cacti species.

Results: The first naturalised population of Opuntia microdasys in KwaZulu-Natal was detected, as was the first confirmed South African record of Echinopsis oxygona. Four populations of Peniocereus serpentinus were also found, ranging in size from several square metres to 0.4 ha. Echinopsis oxygona generated a score that falls into the reject category of the risk assessment model used.

Conclusion: It is recommended that E. oxygona be added to the Species Under Surveillance for Possible Eradication or Containment Targeting list to investigate whether this species requires formal legal listing and the development of a specific eradication plan. Immediate action from local authorities is recommended for the manual removal of P. serpentinus and O. microdasys populations.


Keywords

botanical invasions; Cactaceae; naturalised; Tugela River

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