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
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