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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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Research Bitou Bush Along the New South Wales Coast (Research Paper Sample)

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The sample is about the bitou bush along the new south wales coast and how it has invaded the vegetation in the area thus affecting the habitat of plants, birds and animals that resided in the area.

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Bitou Bush along New South Wales Coast Line
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Introduction
According to Vranjic (2017), the Bitou bush is one of the weeds that threaten coastal dune vegetation along the New South Wales Coast Line (NSW) due to its ability to spread which impacts on the environment and ecosystem potentially. The weed has the potential to replace native flora and spreads through both distributed and undistributed areas. Furthermore, bitou bush alters the many native animals and birds that live in the New South Wales Coast Line, and it also creates the favorable environment for an infestation of other highly invasive weeds. Moreover, the reason bitou bush is the worst weed in the NSW is because it can survive in harsh conditions that often get experienced on the coastal dunes and its leaves are almost succulent and waxy. Also, the weed has an adaptation for the sandblasts experienced on the coastal dunes, and it can withstand intense temperatures in the summer (Csurhes, 2016). Another issue why bitou bush is dangerous is because it is a competitive weed which smothers native plants and invades the natural habitat and the source of food for native animals. The plants that are adversely affected are the shrubs, ferns, and herbs while the ecological communities affected are Kurnell Dune Forest and the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrubs (HamilitonA, 2012). This article aims at addressing these issues and how the bitou bush impacts on the ecosystem and the importance of managing the spread of this plant since it's a hazard that is harmful to the plants, environment, and animals.
Bitou bush
1 History
Bitou bush is often thought to have accidentally gotten introduced in Australia because the origin of the woody shrub is Southern Africa (Groves, 2008). Most of the spreading was through natural means either by wind, birds, and animals and was spread intentionally for dunes erosion control. According to James (2014), wherever bitous bush occurs primarily on the conserved environment, it tends to have a deleterious effect on the ecosystem affecting the heathlands, forests, and woodlands. Bitous weed was declared first a noxious weed in Shoalhaven City Council (1993), and it was later declared noxious in the remaining south coast in 1999. In NSW, noxious weeds such as bitous bush get proclaimed by the Local Control Authority which has taken the role of managing the weed problem (Thompson, 2008).
2 Description
The bitous bush is an evergreen shrub which is occasionally one to two meters high and its leaves are often bright green, thick and succulent while the new growing bitous bush are whitish and they get covered with fine hairs. According to Scott (2014), the noxious weed has yellow daisy flowers that have petals ranging from 11-13mm, and black fleshy fruit follows these. Each fruit has one oval with ribbed seeds that are 5-7 mm long, and the bitous bush gets peak flowering during autumn (Gross, 2017).
3 Habitat
Bitous bush gets adapted to humid coastal areas where they receive rainfall frequently during the summer and relatively dry during winter. Furthermore, the annual rainfall is between 1000mm to 2000 mm per annually. The weed can tolerate salt spray, water-logged soil which makes it invade the swamp edges and wetlands.
Effects of Bitous Bush on the Ecosystem
1 Effects on Native Plants
The bitous bush has the impact the organization of plants from the genes, species, population, and communities to the ecosystems. According to Jane (2007), bitous bush threatens the native coastal community especially in the NWS where in some areas the weed forms the virtual monoculture. The weed does not affect the physical shape of the coastline when its young but when it grows it takes over the space occupied by dunes. During this process, the bitous bush covers native vegetation which was previously there thus making the vegetation vulnerable. Therefore, the native plants are directly affected by bitous bush which may result in the loss of native plant species which is the adverse effect of bitous bush on the ecosystem (Jane, 2007).
2 Effects on the Ecosystem Function
It is crucial in that the biotus bush affects the functioning of the ecosystem because it causes invasion of the nutrition cycle to nitrogen that available in the soil. Furthermore, the biotus bush may alter the chemical characteristics of the ecosystem which includes soil organic chemistry. Moreover, the bitous bush affects the availability of water in the soil and to other native plants, and it also affects the availability of some inorganic compounds in the soil. Also, biotus bush may change the ecosystems' physical properties such as the temperature, light, and humidity available in the atmosphere.
3 Effects on Shoot and Root Length of Native Vegetation
According to Al Harun (2016), the invasion of bitous bush in NWS has resulted in native vegetation to have difficulty in growing well-developed roots that used to go deep in the soil. It is because most of the water levels in the soil get occupied by the roots of the bitous bush resulting to nutrition competition between the native plants and the bitous bush. Thus, the native vegetation is forced to have shallow and weak roots because the competition of the resources in the soil is very high. It affects the plant in that the native plant is not as healthy as it used to be because of the bitous bush invasion.
4 Effects on the Soil
The leaves of the bitous bush have high alkaline content, so when the leaves fall off, they get into the soil resulting in the high chemical concentration in the soil. It affects the native vegetation in that some species of plants that do not survive in high alkaline soil content end up getting extinct from the vegetation (Dragovich, 2015). Therefore, the vegetation of the NWS will have to change because some species of native plants are no longer available due to the invasion of the bitous bush. Furthermore, the hydrophobic that bitous bush extract from its roots into the soil have an effect on L.longifolia, I. nodosa and A. megalocarpa establishment.
Impact of Bitou Bush on the Ecosystem along NWS Coastline
1 Bitou Bush Affects Fauna
In spite of the less presence of litter in habitats that have been invaded by the bitou bush, there is richness and abudance in litter invertebrates which are not adversely affected by invasion of the bitou bush. Though, there is composition change in the assemblage of the invertebrates due to cooler and moisture environment of the sites that have gotten invaded. Therefore, there is the presence of some invertebrate groups which are more abundant especially species that thrive due to the moisture such as the millipedes, amphipods, earthworms, and springtails. Moreover, some of the invertebrates are less abundant which include centipedes, spiders, native cockroaches and ants (TAP, 2006). These changes to ecosystem imply that it results in the shift in food webs although there is an increase in species that mostly thrive on decomposition. These decomposition species may be the cause of the observed decomposition increase rate. Also, there were observations that the Heteroptera did respond to the mesic conditions present in the invaded areas by bitou bush as compared to the arboreal invertebrates. According to French (2008), the invasion of the bitou bush has the variable effect on the bird assemblage thus affecting birds that depend on plant resources for food. Such birds that have been changed due to the bitou bush invasion are frugivores and nectrarivores which have decreased in the invaded regions. Thus, the NWS regions invaded by the bitou bush provide inadequate food resources for the frugivores and nectrarivores. However, there was little impact on the foraging canopy species and few changes on some insectivores habitats. Furthermore, there were few changes in the behavior of the silvereyes, Holland honeyeaters, little wattlebirds, and superb fairywrens. These species spent less time undertaking behaviors differently in NWS regions that were affected by the bitou bush and NWS regions that were not affected. However, there were observations that bitou bush changed NWS regions has three of these bird species depending on the native plants for food resources. Therefore, the reduction in native plants abundance in NWS invaded habitats gives a good reason why some of the bird species were no longer present in these bitou bush invaded habitats. Moreover, nectarivores reliance on the native plants in NWS regions has decreased because there is less abundance of food resources in NWS invaded habitats.
2 Bitou bush Seedlings Germinate Rapidly and the Growth Rate in High
According to French (2008), the bitou bush is a very hazardous weed because it thrives to displace the native species in their early life when growing as compared to native adult plants. Observations made indicate that growth rate, flower production and photosynthetic stress indices on adult native plant species (Monotoca elliptica. Lomandra longifolia and Correa alba) were not affected by the invasion of the bitou bush habitat in NWS. Hence, it is evident that the bitou bush does not change native adult plants in the NWS habitat thus having less impact on the adult plant vegetation. However, observations made show that the bitou bush seedlings grew rapidly than the NWS coastal wattle seedlings which were a clear indication that the bitou bush focused on displacing the native seedlings. For instance, the bitou bush seedlings increased in biomass a bit faster and decreased the biomass of Ficinia nodosa and the Banksia intergrifolia. Furthermore, habitats in the NWS that did not get cleared due to bitou bush invasion had germination of more bitou bush seeds, and they grew more rapidly as compared to the native seeds. Hence, the growth rate of the bitou bush had an adverse effect on the native seedlings which made t...
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