Invasive Alien Plants in Wetlands of Kanchanpur District, Western Nepal

Priyanka Bhatt, Bharat Babu Shrestha


Wetlands have a significant role in conservation of biodiversity and genetic resources but this important habitat has been degrading worldwide due to biological invasions and other anthropogenic activities. Successful management of wetland invasive species requires information on their spatial distribution, factors governing their invasions, risk of invasion at currently unoccupied sites, and prioritization of management efforts. In this study we sampled nineteen wetlands of Kanchanpur district, western Nepal to record invasive alien plant species (IAPS), identify their dispersal pathways and factors determining their abundance. Cover of IAPS were estimated visually; nitrogen and phosphorus content were measured in water samples; major drivers of wetland invasions were identified by multivariate analyses; and potential dispersal pathways of Eichhornia crassipes were identified by Focus Group Discussion with subsequent prioritization by scoring method. We recorded four IAPS, of which Ipomea carnea ssp fistulosa (63%) and Eichhornia crassipes (42%) were the most frequent. Though the frequency of E. crassipes was less than that of I. carnea ssp. fistulosa, E. crassipes was found to be dominant in terms of coverage. We found that 26% of the wetlands of Kanchanpur district were highly invaded (i.e., Cover of IAPS > 50%) by these IAPS, 42% were moderately invaded (Cover < 50%) and 31% were free of invasion. Intentional introduction to feed fishes was the main pathway of E. crassipes dispersal but the pathway was not known for other three IAPS. Elevation, nitrate and phosphate concentration in water were the major environmental variables determining occurrence and abundance of IAPS in wetlands. Management interventions involving control of IAPS in their dispersal pathways and prevention of their spread in to the non-invaded wetlands through community awareness are the recommended management interventions to protect wetlands of Kanchanpur district from further invasion by IAPS.


Dispersal pathways; Eichhornia crassipes; Eutrophication; Tarai; Wetland invasions


Bradley, B. A. and Marvin, D. C. 2011. Using expert knowledge to satisfy data needs: mapping invasive plant distributions in the western United States. Western North American Naturalist 71(3):302-316.

Buchan, L. A., and Padilla, D. K. 2000. Predicting the likelihood of Eurasian watermilfoil presence in lakes, a macrophyte monitoring tool. Ecological Applications 10(5):1442-1455.

Cadotte, M. W., Yasui, S. L. E., Livingstone, S. and Mac Ivor, J. S. 2017. Are urban systems beneficial, detrimental, or indifferent for biological invasion? Biological invasions 19: (12):3489-3503.

Catford, J. A., Downes, B. J., Gippel, C. J. and Vesk, P. A. 2011. Flow regulation reduces native plant cover and facilitates exotic invasion in riparian wetlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 48(2):432-442.

CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) 2000. Alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species. UNEP/CBD/COP/5/8. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nairobi, Kenya.

Chytry, M., Wild, J., Pysek, P., Jarosik, V., Dendoncker, N., Reginster, I., and Kuhn, I. 2012. Projecting trends in plant invasions in Europe under different scenarios of future land use change. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21(1):75-87.

Daubenmire, R. 1959. A canopy-coverage method of vegetation analysis, North West Science 33: 39-64

Ding, J.Q. and Xie, Y. 1996. The mechanism of biological invasion and the management strategy. In Eds.: Schei, P.J., Sung, W., Yan, X.; Conserving China’s biodiversity. China Environmental Science Press, Beijing. pp 125–156

Ding, J.Q., Mack, R.N., Lu, P., Ren, M.X. and Huang, H.W. 2008. Blooming economy is sparking and accelerating biological invasions. Biological Science 58: 317-324.

DoF (Department of Forests) 2017. Wetlands of Western Nepal: A brief profile of Selected Lakes. Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Babarmahal, Kathmandu, Nepal. 281 pages.

Doods, W.K., Wilson, K.C., Rehmire, R.L., Knight, G.L., Wiggaams, S., Flke, J.A., Dalgleish, H.J., Bertrand, K. N. 2008. Comparing ecosystem goods and services provided by restored and native lands. BioSciences 58 (9): 837- 845.

Gallien, L., Munkemuller, T., Albert, C. H., Boulangeat, I. and Thuiller, W. 2010. Predicting potential distributions of invasive species: where to go from here? Diversity and Distributions 16(3): 331-342.

Heathwaite, L. 1995. Sources of eutrophication: hydrological pathways of catchment nutrient export. IAHS Publications-Series of Proceedings and Reports-International Association of Hydrological Sciences 230:161-176.

Holdredge, C., Bertness, M. D., Von Wettberg, E. and Silliman, B. R.2010. Nutrient enrichment enhances hidden differences in phenotype to drive a cryptic plant invasion. Oikos 119(11): 1776-1784.

Hulme, P. E. 2009. Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization. Journal of Applied Ecology 46(1): 10-18.

IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature Nepal) 2004. A Review of the Status and Threats to Wetlands in Nepal. IUCN, Kathmandu, Nepal. 88 pages.

Jha, H.K. 2017. Infestation of aquatic weeds: A serious threat. The Journal of Indian Botanical Society 96 (1&2): 100-104.

Levine, J. M. and D Antonio, C. M.2003. Forecasting biological invasions with increasing international trade. Conservation Biology 17(1): 322-326.

Loo, S.E., Mac Nally., R., O’Dowd, D.J., Thomson, J.R. and Lake, D.S. 2009. Multiple scale analysis of factors influencing the distribution of an invasive aquatic grass. Biological Invasions 11: 1903-1912.

Lowe, S., Browne, M., Boudjela, S. and De Poorter, M. 2000. 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. A Selection from the Global Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). World Conservation Union (IUCN). 11 pages.

LRMP (Land Resource Mapping Project) 1986. Forestry land use report Mimeograph, Topographical Survey Branch, Kathmandu. 106 pages.

Maasri, A., and Gelhaus, J. 2011. The new era of the livestock production in Mongolia: consequences on streams of the Sciences Great Lakes Depression. Science of the total environment 409 (22): 4841-4846.

Masoodi, A. and Khan, F.A. 2012. Invasion of alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) in Wular Lake, Kashmir, India. Aquatic Invasions 7 (1): 143-146.

Mattingly, W. B. and Orrock, J. L.2013. Historic land use influences contemporary establishment of invasive plant species. Oecologia 172(4): 1147-1157.

Menuz, D.R. and Kettenring, K.M. 2013.The importance of roads, nutrients and climate for invasive plant establishment in riparian areas in the Northwestern United States. Biological Invasions 15: 1601- 1612.

MFSC (Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation) 2014. Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2004– 2014). Government of Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal. 264 pages.

Olson, E. R., Ventura, S. J. and Zedler, J. B. 2012. Merging geospatial and field data to predict the distribution and abundance of an exotic macrophyte in a large Wisconsin reservoir. Aquatic Botany 96(1): 31-41.

Pan, X.Y., Geng, Y.P., Zhang, W.J., Li, B. and Chen, J.K. 2006. The influence of abiotic stress and phenotypic plasticity on the distribution of invasive Alternanthera philoxeroides along a riparian zone. Acta Oecologica 30: 333–341.

doi: 10.1016/j.actao.2006.03.003

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. 2001. Noxious Weeds of Australia: CSIRO. Collingwood, Australia.

Primack, R.B. and Miao, S.L. 1992. Dispersal can limit local plant distribution. Conservation Biology 6: 513-519.

Qin, H.J., Zhang, Z.Y., Liu, H., Li, D., Wen, X., Zhang, Y., Wang, Y. and Yan, S. 2016. Fenced cultivation of water hyacinth for cyanobacterial bloom control. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 23 (17): 17742-17752. doi: 10.1007/S11356-016-6799-6.

R development Core Team. 2016. A language and Environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R foundation for statistical Computing.

Roley, S. S. and Newman, R. M. 2008. Predicting Eurasian watermilfoil invasions in Minnesota. Lake and Reservoir Management 24(4): 361-369.

Seebens, H., Gaetner, M. T., Blasius, B. and Courchamp, F. 2013. The risk of marine bioinvasion caused by global shipping. Ecology Letter 16(6): 782-790.

Seipel, T., Kueffer, C., Rew, L.J., Daehler, C.C., Pauchard, A., Naylor, B.J., Alexander, J.M., Edwards, P.J., Parks, C.G., Arevalo, J.R., Cavieres, L.A., Dietz, H., Jakobs, G., Mc Dougall, K. Otto, R. and Walsh, N. 2012. Process at multiple scales affect richness and similarity of non-native plant species in mountains around the world. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 236-246.

Shaker, R. R., Rapp, C. J. and Yakubov, A. D. 2013. Examining patterns of aquatic invasion within the Adirondacks: an OLS and GLM approach. Middle States Geographer 46: 1-11.

Shaker, R.R., Yakubov, A.D., Nick, S.M., Vennie-vollrathe, E., and Wayne, F.K.2017. Predicting aquatic invasion in Adirondack lakes: a spatial analysis of lake and landscape characteristics. Ecosphere 8(3) 1-25.

Shrestha, B. B. 2016. Invasive alien plant species in Nepal. In Eds.: Jha PK, Siwakoti M. and Rajbhandary S. Frontiers of Botany. Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu. pp 269-284

Shrestha, B.B. 2019. Management of invasive alien plant species in Nepal: current practices and future prospects. In: Garkoti, S.C., van Bloem, S., Fule, P.Z., and Semwal, R.L., (Eds.), Tropical Ecosystems: Structure, Functions and Global Change, Springer Nature Singapore. pp. 45-68.

Shrestha, B.B., Shrestha, U.B., Sharma, K.P., Thapa-parajuli, R.B., Devkota, A and Siwakoti, M. 2019. Community perception and prioritization of invasive alien plants in Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. Journal of Environmental Management 229: 38-47.

Ter Braak, C.J.F. and Verdonschot, P.F.M. 1993. Canonical Correspondence Analysis and related multivariate methods in aquatic ecology. Aquatic Science 57: 225-289 doi: 10.1007/BF00877430.

Tiwari, S., Siwakoti, M., Adhikari, B., and Subedi, K. 2005. An Inventory and Assessment of Invasive Alien Plant Species of Nepal. IUCN Nepal, Kathmandu.

Trivedy, R.K. and Goel, P.K. 1986. Chemical and Biological Methods for Water Pollution Studies. Environmental Publication, Karad, India.

Trombulak, S. C. and Frissell, C. A. 2000. Review of ecological effects of roads on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conservation Biology 14(1): 18-30.

Wu, H. and Ding, J. 2019. Global change sharpen the double- edged sword effect of aquatic alien plants in china and beyond. Fontiers in Plant Science 10 (787) 1-11.DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00787

Zedler, J. B. and Kercher, S. 2004. Causes and consequences of invasive plants in wetlands: opportunities, opportunists, and outcomes. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 23(5): 431-452.

Zelder, J.B. and Kercher, S. 2005. Wetland Resources. Status, trends, ecosystem services, and restorability. Annual Review of Environmental Resources 30: 39-74.

Zhao, H., Yang, W., Xia, L., Qiao, Y., Xiao, Y., Cheng, X., and An, S. 2015. Nitrogen‐enriched eutrophication promotes the invasion of Spartina alterniflora in coastal China. CLEAN–Soil, Air, Water 43(2): 244-250. Doi: 10.1002/clen.201300844

Zuo, S.P., Ma, Y.Q. and Shinobu, I. 2012. Differences in ecological and allelopathic traits among Alternanthera philoxeroides population. Weed Biology Management 12: 123-130. doi: 1011111/j.1445-6664.2012.00443X.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

COPYRIGHT of this Journal vests fully with the National Instional Institute of Ecology. Any commercial use of the content on this site in any form is legally prohibited.