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Survey of Introduced Vascular Plants in South Georgia

Surveying introduced plants on South Georgia, to provide baseline information on their presence, distribution and invasive potential, enabling the Government of South Georgia to make informed decisions for conservation management.

Surveying plants along a sample transect on South Georgia
(Image: Stuart Cable)

South Georgia is one of the most remote of the UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic. It is accessible only by boat, and only during some months of the year. It has unique and spectacular wildlife, and this (along with human history and landscape) is the basis for a thriving cruise tourism industry. To effectively conserve and manage South Georgia’s native wildlife, the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) identified a need to augment current baseline information on the presence, distribution and invasive potential of introduced species on the island, including both plant and invertebrate species. Kew was awarded a joint contract with Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust to carry out this project.

In January 2009 a field team from Kew spent 28 days on South Georgia surveying the extent of introduced plant species. The team visited 16 sample sites including historical hotspots for introduced species (former whaling stations and settlements), new potential hotspots for introductions (popular visitor sites) and comparative less-visited sites. The results of the survey are detailed in a report to the RSPB (Osborne et al. 2009 - see annex). For each sample site a full description of the survey work and findings is given. This includes a list of the introduced species found and a summary of their distribution and abundance at the site. Maps showing the records of each introduced species at each site are appended. Twenty-four introduced vascular plant species were recorded during the survey including Trisetum spicatum, which had not previously been recorded for South Georgia. Assessment of invasive potential and recommendations for eradication, further survey and monitoring are discussed in the report. During the survey, herbarium specimens of native and introduced species were collected. The specimens have been incorporated into the Herbarium at Kew with duplicates sent to the British Antarctic Survey Herbarium in Cambridge. Images of these specimens now form part of the UKOTs Online Herbarium. In addition, seeds of native species were collected for ex situ conservation through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.

The survey was undertaken as part of the South Atlantic Invasive Species Project (SAISP), co-ordinated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and funded by the European Commission through EDF-9.

 

Publication:
 

Project partners and collaborators

South Georgia

Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

UK

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust

Project funders

EU

European Commission - Project No 9 PTO REG5/L; PTR 003/05/EDFIX

Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives

Renata Borosova, Marie Briggs, Stuart Cable, Jo Osborne, Thomas Heller, Justin Moat, Steve Bachman

Conservation, Living Collections and Estates

Colin Clubbe, Martin Hamilton

Project Leader: