Invasion of tamarisk (Tamarixspp.) in a southern California salt marsh

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Exotic plants have been demonstrated to be one of the greatest threats to wetlands, as they are capable of altering ecosystem-wide physical and biological properties. One of the most problematic invaders in the western United States has been salt cedar, Tamarix spp., and the impacts of this species in riparian and desert ecosystems have been well-documented. Here we document large populations of tamarisk in the intertidal salt marshes of Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, a habitat not often considered vulnerable to invasion by tamarisk. Initial research demonstrates that there are multiple species and hybrids of Tamarix invading the estuary and that the potential impact of tamarisk within this salt marsh is significant. This highlights the need for managers and scientists to be aware of the problems associated with tamarisk invasion of coastal marine habitats and to take early and aggressive action to combat any incipient invasion.

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