Invasive aquatic plants presents in Chile: Distribution, traits of life and invasive potential

Biological invasions are recognized as one of the major causes of biodiversity loss. Although invasion processes occur in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, freshwater ecosystems are particularly sensitive to invasions impacts. Given that the information on invasive aquatic plants is scarce in South America and highly limited for Chile, the this work aims to generate baseline information about invasive aquatic plants for the country, identifying these species, their distribution, their life-history trades and their invasive potential. A comprehensive search was performed on the Web of Science database and other relevant Web pages on the invasive behavior of aquatic plant species introduced in Chile. Records for 14 invasive aquatic species were found. Myriophyllum aquaticum, Eichhornia crassipes and Egeria densa showed the highest number of references, while Limnobium laevigatum and Utricularia gibba showed the least. The species with the highest invasive potential was M. aquaticum, while Veronica beccabunga had the lowest. The Region of Valparaiso showed the highest number of invasive aquatic plants, and also exhibits the highest proportion of such species in relation to the available habitat. Knowledge of the invasive aquatic plants is essential to delineate aspects of conservation of Chile fresh water systems, to reduce the threats on these ecosystems.

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