Effects of invasive cordgrass on presence of Marsh Grassbird in an area where it is not native.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The threatened Marsh Grassbird (Locustella pryeri) first appeared in the salt marsh in east China after the salt marsh was invaded by cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), a non-native invasive species. To understand the dependence of non-native Marsh Grassbird on the non-native cordgrass, we quantified habitat use, food source, and reproductive success of the Marsh Grassbird at the Chongming Dongtan (CMDT) salt marsh. In the breeding season, we used point counts and radio-tracking to determine habitat use by Marsh Grassbirds. We analyzed basal food sources of the Marsh Grassbirds by comparing the δ(13) C isotope signatures of feather and fecal samples of birds with those of local plants. We monitored the nests through the breeding season and determined the breeding success of the Marsh Grassbirds at CMDT. Density of Marsh Grassbirds was higher where cordgrass occurred than in areas of native reed (Phragmites australis) monoculture. The breeding territory of the Marsh Grassbird was composed mainly of cordgrass stands, and nests were built exclusively against cordgrass stems. Cordgrass was the major primary producer at the base of the Marsh Grassbird food chain. Breeding success of the Marsh Grassbird at CMDT was similar to breeding success within its native range. Our results suggest non-native cordgrass provides essential habitat and food for breeding Marsh Grassbirds at CMDT and that the increase in Marsh Grassbird abundance may reflect the rapid spread of cordgrass in the coastal regions of east China. Our study provides an example of how a primary invader (i.e., cordgrass) can alter an ecosystem and thus facilitate colonization by a second non-native species.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ma, Z; Gan, X; Choi, C-Y; Li, B

Published Date

  • February 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 28 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 150 - 158

PubMed ID

  • 24405105

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1523-1739

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0888-8892

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cobi.12172


  • eng