Academic Papers

These are academic papers relating to invasive species in South Africa. They include current research and projects such as biological control, invasive species traits, invasion biology and the detrimental effects invasive species have on biodiversity, water resources and the economy. They are listed according to year in which they were published.


3. Mirabilis jalapa LO 044

A vision for global monitoring of biological invasions

Managing biological invasions relies on good global coverage of species distributions. This study presents a vision for global observation and monitoring of biological invasions. The authors show how the architecture for tracking biological invasions is provided by a minimum information set of Essential Variables, global collaboration on data sharing and infrastructure, and strategic contributions by countries.

Guillaume Latombe, Petr Pyšek, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Tim M. Blackburn, Sven Bacher, César Capinha, Mark J. Costello, Miguel Fernández, Richard D. Gregory, Donald Hobern, Cang Hui, Walter Jetz, Sabrina Kumschick, Chris McGrannachan, Jan Pergl, Helen E. Roy, Riccardo Scalera, Zoe E. Squires, John R.U.Wilson, Marten Winter, Piero Genovesi, Melodie A. McGeoch.

1. Clusia rosea

How repeatable is the Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT)? Comparing independent global impact assessments of amphibians

The magnitude of impacts some alien species cause to native environments makes them targets for regulation and management. However, which species to target is not always clear, and comparisons of a wide variety of impacts are necessary. This study assesses the newly proposed Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT) used for amphibians and test how outcomes differ between assessors.

Sabrina Kumschick, G. John Measey, Giovanni Vimercati, F. Andre de Villiers, Mohlamatsane M. Mokhatla, Sarah J. Davies, Corey J. Thorp, Alexander D. Rebelo, Tim M. Blackburn, Fred Kraus.

1. Senna didymobotrya 17

Senna didymobotrya - Flowering Plants of Africa

Senna Mill. Ia a large genus in the Fabaceae family, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Cassieae with approximately 350 species. This classification has been supported by a number of studies of these genera based on morphology, ontogenetic charactersitics, molecular systematics and cytogenetics (Resende et al. 2013).

Jaca, T. P. & Condy,G.

1. Clusia rosea

A description of the naturalised Clusia rosea Jacq. (Clusiaceae) populations in South Africa

The invasive nature of C. rosea was brought to the attention of environmentalists by a local conservation group in southern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in 2010. It was added to the Durban Early Detection and Rapid Response website ( and featured in a Southern African Plant Invaders Atlas (SAPIA) newsletter (Henderson 2013) to create awareness about the species and encourage sighting reports.

Michael D. Cheek, Reshnee Lalla

2. Harmonia axyridis 2320282329

The balance of trade in alien species between South Africa and the rest of Africa

Alien organisms are not only introduced from one biogeographical region to another but also spread within regions. The aim of this study was to gain a greater understanding of the introduction of alien species into Africa and the spread of species between South Africa and other African countries.

Katelyn T. Faulkner, Brett P. Hurley, Mark P. Robertson, Mathieu Rouget, John R.U. Wilson

3. Melaleuca hypericifolia taken by Ernita van Wyk

Changes in the composition and distribution of alien plants in South Africa: An update from the Southern African Plant Invaders Atlas

Data on alien species status and occurrence are essential variables for the monitoring and reporting of biological invasions. This study aims to document changes in the alien plant taxa recorded in SAPIA, assess trends in invasive distributions and explore effects of management and regulations.

Lesley Henderson, John R.U. Wilson

4. Opuntia ficus indica DS 063

A proposed national strategic framework for the management of Cactaceae in South Africa

South Africa has a long history of managing biological invasions. The aim of this study is to guide the future management of cactus invasions, a national strategic framework was developed by the South African Cactus Working Group. The overarching aim of this framework is to reduce the negative impacts of cacti to a point where their benefits significantly outweigh the losses.

Haylee Kaplan, John R.U. Wilson, Hildegard Klein, Lesley Henderson, Helmuth G. Zimmermann, Phetole Manyama, Philip Ivey, David M. Richardson, Ana Novoa

5. Campuloclinium macrocephalum Magaliesburg Feb 2003

Promise and challenges of risk assessment as an approach for preventing the arrival of harmful alien species

Harmful alien species continue to be a major driver of biodiversity change across the globe, as well as causing enormous economic costs and impacts to human health and livelihoods. A range of approaches to Risk Assessment tool development have emerged, each relying on different assumptions about the relationships between traits and species impacts, and each requiring different levels and types of data.

Reuben P. Keller, Sabrina Kumschick

6. Oncorhynchus tshawytscha female 10 21 11 NT

Evaluating invasion risk for freshwater fishes in South Africa

South Africa, as a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity, has an obligation to identify, prioritise and manage invasive species and their introduction pathways. This study aims to evaluate the Fish Invasiveness Screening Kit (FISK) to predict the invasion risk posed by fish species proposed for introduction into South Africa.

Sean M. Marr, Bruce R. Ellender, Darragh J. Woodford, Mhairi E. Alexander, Ryan J. Wasserman, Philip Ivey, Tsungai Zengeya, Olaf L.F. Weyl

7. Arundo donax LO 1016

Grasses as invasive plants in South Africa revisited: Patterns, pathways and management

In many countries around the world, the most damaging invasive plant species are grasses. However, the status of grass invasions in South Africa has not been documented recently. This study aims to update Sue Milton’s 2004 review of grasses as invasive alien plants in South Africa, provide the first detailed species level inventory of alien grasses in South Africa and assess the invasion dynamics and management of the group.

Vernon Visser, John R.U. Wilson, Kim Canavan, Susan Canavan, Lyn Fish, David Le Maitre, Ingrid Nänni, Caroline Mashau, Tim G. O’Connor, Philip Ivey, Sabrina Kumschick, David M. Richardson

8. Agave americana LO 008

Contributions to the National Status Report on Biological Invasions in South Africa

South Africa has committed to producing a National Status Report on Biological Invasions by October 2017 and thereafter every three years. This will be the first status report at a national level specifically on biological invasions.

John R.U. Wilson, Mirijam Gaertner, David M. Richardson, Brian W. van Wilgen

9. Micropterus dolomieu

Optimising invasive fish management in the context of invasive species legislation in South Africa

South Africa hosts a large number of non-native freshwater fishes that were introduced for various industries. This study assesses the history and status of national legislation pertaining to invasive freshwater fishes, and the practical implications of the legislation for managing different species with contrasting distributions, impacts and utilisation value.

Darragh J. Woodford, Phillip Ivey, Martine S. Jordaan, Peter K. Kimberg, Tsungai Zengeya, Olaf L.F. Weyl

10. Dolichandra unguis cati LO 6485

Managing conflict-generating invasive species in South Africa: Challenges and trade-offs

This paper reviewed the benefits and negative impacts of alien species that are currently listed in the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations of the National Environmental

Management: Biodiversity Act (Act no 10 of 2004) and certain alien species that are not yet listed in the regulations for which conflicts of interest complicate management.

Tsungai Zengeya, Philip Ivey, Darragh J. Woodford, Olaf Weyl, Ana Novoa, Ross Shackleton, David Richardson, Brian van Wilgen 

Bamboos thumb

The global distribution of bamboos: assessing correlates of introduction and invasion

There is a long history of species being moved around the world by humans. These introduced species can provide substantial benefits, but they can also have undesirable consequences. We explore the importance of human activities on the processes of species dissemination and potential invasions using the Poaceae subfamily Bambusoideae (‘bamboos’), a group that contains taxa that are widely utilised and that are often perceived as weedy.

Aliens thumb

Aliens in the nursery: assessing the attitudes of nursery managers to invasive species regulations

The horticultural industry is recognised as a major pathway for the introduction and spread of invasive alien plants (IAPs). The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA) of 1983 (Act No. 43 of 1983) listed and categorised invasive species with an aim to curb their spread.

Assessing thumb

Assessing and managing the threat posed by Epipremnum aureum in
South Africa

The predictive success of risk assessments is still largely a function of invasiveness elsewhere. Therefore, species
that are invasive elsewhere should be prioritised for management, and where possible eradicated.We set out to
investigate the threat posed by the alien climber Epipremnum aureum (Araceae) and assess techniques for controlling
the spread of the species in South Africa.

Impact assessment thumb

Impact assessment with different scoring tools: How well do alien amphibian assessments match?

Classification of alien species’ impacts can aid policy making through evidence based listing and management recommendations. We highlight differences and a number of potential difficulties with two scoring tools, the Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT) and the Generic Impact Scoring System (GISS) using amphibians as a case study. Generally, GISS and EICAT assessments lead to very similar impact levels, but scores from the schemes are not equivalent.


Invasive estuarine grass

Morphological variations in southern African populations of Myriophyllum spicatum: Phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation?

Senna Mill. Ia a large genus in the Fabaceae family, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Cassieae with approximately 350 species. This classification has been supported by a number of studies of these genera based on morphology, ontogenetic charactersitics, molecular systematics and cytogenetics (Resende et al. 2013).