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Recent Replacement of Native Pili Grass (Heteropogon contortus) by Invasive African Grasses in the Hawaiian Islands

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Title: Recent Replacement of Native Pili Grass (Heteropogon contortus) by Invasive African Grasses in the Hawaiian Islands
Authors: Daehler, Curtis C.
Carino, Debbie A.
Issue Date: Jul 1998
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Daehler CC, Carino DA. 1998. Recent replacement of native pili grass (Heteropogon contortus) by invasive African grasses in the Hawaiian Islands. Pac Sci 52(3): 220-227.
Abstract: We surveyed 41 sites from throughout O'ahu that had been
dominated by native pili grass (Heteropogon contortus) in the late 1960s. Pili
grass was absent from 14 (35%) of those sites in 1997 and had declined in
abundance in most of the 27 remaining sites, relative to the late 1960s. The
pili grass communities have been replaced by communities dominated by one
of three African grasses: Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass), Pennisetum setaceum
(fountain grass), or Panicum maximum (Guinea grass). Panicum maximum was
often associated with the shrub Leucaena leucocephala, and Cenchrus ciliaris
and Pennisetum setaceum communities showed little evidence of succession
toward woody vegetation. Communities dominated by the African grasses were
significantly less diverse, in terms of number of plant species, than the native
pili grass-dominated communities. Observations made on other Hawaiian
islands suggest that this rapid pili grass decline and replacement with alien
grasses has not been limited to O'ahu. Research is needed to determine how
higher-diversity native pili grass communities can be maintained in the Hawaiian
Islands as a valuable natural and cultural resource.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 52, Number 3, 1998

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