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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


YARROW, MATTHEW et al. The ecology of Egeria densa Planchón (Liliopsida: Alismatales): A wetland ecosystem engineer? . Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2009, vol.82, n.2, pp.299-313. ISSN 0716-078X.

Egeria densa Planchón is considered an invasive species in continental aquatic systems in Chile. Its original geographical distribution was limited to the subtropical regions of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Its fast growth and dense canopy-forming habit are associated with the clear water state of shallow water continental ecosystems. As a dominant species in many of the systems in which it occurs, E. densa behaves as an ecosystem engineer by preventing the re-suspension of sediments and controlling the growth of phytoplankton by removing nutrients from the water column. At the same time, this invasive species produces unwanted effects such as: (1) clogging waterways and hydroelectric turbines, (2) out-competing native vegetation, and (3) negatively affecting the sediment seed bank. Given its importance in the recent (2004) change of state of the Río Cruces wetland, Chile, we felt it appropriate to undertake a comprehensive literature review of this species. We conclude by discussing the role of E. densa as an ecosystem engineer while cautioning against the impression that E. densa is always a highly competitive invader.

Keywords : Egeria densa; ecosystem engineer; invasive species.

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