The Invasion of Merremia Peltata and Its Ecological Impact in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Southern Part of Sumatera Indonesia
S. S. Tjitrosoedirdjo, J. Master, S. Tjitrosoedirdjo

Source: SEAMEO BIOTROP's Research Grant | 2011


Studies were carried out in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park to evaluate the invasion and impact of Merremia peltata. Three locations representing natural forest, burnt forest, and degraded forest were selected. Vegetation analyses were carried out using three 1000m-line transects with a distance of 2 km apart in each locations for the measurement of percentage of coverage of M. peltata. The results showed that the diversity of the three forest types, using the Shanon-Wiener (S’)  index,  had decreased i.e., 2.49 for natural forest, 2.21 for  burnt forest and 1.90 for degraded forest while the M. peltata coverage had increased, i.e., 1%, 27.11%, and  44.0%, respectively. It reflects that the invasion of M. pelata, having a very intensive coverage, decreased plant biodiversity. Degraded forest recorded the lowest  index of evenness indicating that this forest type was being dominated by M. peltata. On the other hand, the index of similarity indicated that those three forest types differed considerably.  The tree species dominating the natural forest were Strombosia javanica followed by  Dipterocarpus palembanicus. Tetrameles nudiflora, Dracontomelon dao, and, Xerospermum noronhianum. In burnt and degraded forests, the dominant tree species were T. nudiflora,  Cananga odorta,  Glochidion arborescens, D. dao, S. javanica, and C. odorata D. palembanicus G. arborescens, T. nudiflora and Nauclea officinalis, respectively. This further indicates that the invasion of M. peltata not only decreased plant biodiversity but also changed the composition of vegetation. The invasion seems to be facilitated by a reduction in tree canopy, supported by high soil organic matter, high cation exchange capacity, relatively high soil fertility, with good nitrogen, potassium and P2O5 availability.
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