Original Research

The biological control of aquatic weeds in South Africa: Current status and future challenges

Martin P. Hill, Julie Coetzee
Bothalia | Vol 47, No 2 | a2152 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v47i2.2152 | © 2017 Martin P. Hill, Julie Coetzee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 August 2016 | Published: 31 March 2017

About the author(s)

Martin P. Hill, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, South Africa
Julie Coetzee, Department of Botany, Rhodes University, South Africa

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Background: Aquatic ecosystems in South Africa are prone to invasion by several invasive alien aquatic weeds, most notably, Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms-Laub. (Pontederiaceae) (water hyacinth); Pistia stratiotes L. (Araceae) (water lettuce); Salvinia molesta D.S. Mitch. (Salviniaceae) (salvinia); Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell. Conc.) Verd. (parrot’s feather); and Azolla filiculoides Lam. (Azollaceae) (red water fern).
Objective: We review the biological control programme on waterweeds in South Africa.
Results: Our review shows significant reductions in the extent of invasions, and a return on biodiversity and socio-economic benefits through the use of this method. These studies provide justification for the control of widespread and emerging freshwater invasive alien aquatic weeds in South Africa.
Conclusions: The long-term management of alien aquatic vegetation relies on the correct implementation of biological control for those species already in the country and the prevention of other species entering South Africa.


Biological control; invasive aquatic plants; benthic macroinvertebrate diversity


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