A review of the impacts of invasive grasses on herpetofauna



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Species invasions pose one of the greatest threats to the maintenance and stability of biodiversity in ecosystems across the globe (Vitousek 1990). Plant species in particular are uniquely predisposed to successfully invade and establish themselves in novel habitats. In the United States alone invasive plants are responsible for nearly 35 billion dollars in economic and environmental damage. Grasslands are among the most productive ecosystems in the US and their biodiversity is threatened by continual introduction of alien grass species. These invasive grasses have a variety of direct and indirect effects on native grassland communities and have the ability to alter fire regimes, displace native species, and simplify grassland food webs. Little is known about the impacts invasive grasses have to amphibians and reptiles but there is evidence to suggest that these and other small organisms suffer direct mortality, impoverished prey sources, and reduced reproductive opportunities as a consequence of grass invasions. Here I summarize the current literature surrounding invasive grass impacts on herpetofauna and suggest topics of further research.