Alfred E. Hartemink, Invasion of Piper aduncum in the Shifting Cultivation Systems of Papua New Guinea


regional presses publish both popular books on the invasion phenomenon and scientific monographs on particular invasions. Two recent examples merit attention from the international community. Hartemink’s monograph on the arrival and spread of the neotropical shrub or small tree Piper aduncum in Papua New Guinea brings together 10 journal articles by the author and colleagues on various aspects of a fast-moving invasion, together with an introductory chapter relating this case to the invasion literature generally and a summary chapter including a discussion of research lacunae. Introduced by unknown means and first observed on the island in 1935, P. aduncum apparently underwent a pronounced lag through the 1960s, before beginning a spread in the 1970s that accelerated into an explosive expansion in the 1990s. Apparently dispersed by bats, it now dominates secondary fallow vegetation and impedes succession in many lowland areas with shifting agriculture, occasionally forming vast monocultures. In some areas, it even outcompetes legendary other invaders such as Chromolaena odorata and Imperata cylindrica. What is most striking about this invasion in the context of invasion biology is that Piper has quickly become integrated into many aspects of the agriculture, sociology, and economics of the rural population, and while it is increasingly recognized as problematic, particularly with respect to native biodiversity, the invasion is seen as a net benefit by the majority of natives. This paradox is treated throughout the book, particularly in a series of chapters on the relationship of Piper to a sweet potato-dominated agriculture and a long chapter by T.H. Siges et al. on the myriad ways Piper is used in three villages in the Finschhafen District of Papua New Guinea. Agriculture and home construction are the most important activities drastically changed by this invasion, the former on balance for the better and the latter for D. Simberloff (&) Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA e-mail: Biol Invasions (2007) 9:621–622 DOI 10.1007/s10530-006-9037-1

DOI: 10.1007/s10530-006-9037-1

Cite this paper

@article{Simberloff2006AlfredEH, title={Alfred E. Hartemink, Invasion of Piper aduncum in the Shifting Cultivation Systems of Papua New Guinea}, author={Daniel S. Simberloff}, journal={Biological Invasions}, year={2006}, volume={9}, pages={621-622} }