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Invasive grass species pose threat to local biodiversity in Kashmir: New Study

Srinagar, Nov 22: Invasive species of grass with high silicon content is posing a grave threat to the biodiversity including medicinal plants in Kashmir, reveals a new study.

Entitled “Silicon Supplementation of Rescuegrass Reduces Herbivory”, the 2019 research was conducted by Showkat Hamid Mir, Professor Irfan Rashid, Professor Barkat Hussain, Professor Zafar A. Reshi, Rezwana Assad and Irshad A. Sofi of Department of Botany, University of Kashmir.


“The invasive species of grass has more silicon content which restricts the native herbivore, grasshopper, from consuming it. This species of grass has a tendency to spread far and wide in local biodiversity. Thus, posing threat to the native flora of the Kashmir,” reveals the study.

The study depicts that invasive species (botanical name B. catharticus) is a densely tufted, robust annual or short lived perennial, native to South America recently reported as an alien introduction to the flora of Kashmir Himalaya, with the potential to spread along the length and breadth of this biodiversity hotspot.

Showkat Hamid Mir, one of the authors of the research said: “The invasive species establish itself in foreign lands and tries to accumulate more nutrients from the soil and later dominates the native flora of that place.”

He said that B. catharticus accumulates more silicon content from the soil due to which phytolith (Silicon stone) develops in its leaves. “The native grasshopper that is a natural check on it could not consume the grass due to the presence of phytoliths in its leaves which helps invasive grass species to spread and poses threat to the medicinal as well as other native plants,” Mir noted.

Professor, Irfan Rashid, said this is not the only invasive species found in Kashmir that is posing threat to the native flora of Kashmir.

“We have two major management strategies. One strategy is ‘Quarantine check’ which directs not to allow any invasive species to enter into your periphery and for that you keep check spots at airport or at borders. Second strategy, ‘early detection and rapid response’ is that once you detect presence of any invasive species in your periphery, you need to manage it from spreading,” Rashid informed.

Professor Zafar Reshi, Dean Research, said this is the well-established fact that invasive species globally are the second most potent threat to local biodiversity.

“There is large number of alien species present in Kashmir and some of them are invasive. They grow in every eco-system. You will find them in forest, grasslands, water bodies and they have duplicating influence on both structure as well as function of our ecosystem,” Reshi said.  

He suggested that it is a high time for government to make a proper strategy for management of invasive species so that it cannot ruin our local biodiversity.