4th. European Conference on Biological Invasions "Neobiota - From Ecology to Conservation" - Vienna, 27-29.9.2006 - p. 198 Impact of invasive exotic knotweeds (Fallopia spp) on invertebrate communities Gerber E, Schaffner U, Krebs C, Murrell C, (all CABI Switzerland Centre, Switzerland), Moretti M WSL Swiss Federal Research Insitute, Switzerland Exotic knotweeds (Fallopia spp) are considered to be among the most serious invasive exotic weeds in Europe, causing significant damage to native ecosystems. However, with the exception of competitive exclusion of native vegetation, their suggested ecological impact is poorly supported by experimental studies. In 2004, we started to investigate the ecological impact of exotic knotweed species in selected areas of France, Germany and Switzerland. Specifically, we aim to assess their effects on invertebrate community in natural and semi-natural habitats. Ten locations were selected along river courses with different levels of knotweed infestations, and pitfall traps and combi traps (to catch flying insects) randomly established in vegetation invaded by exotic knotweed, as well as in vegetation which can potentially be invaded by knotweed: open vegetation dominated by grasses and forbs, and bush-dominated vegetation. Results indicate that invasion by exotic knotweeds does not only have strong effects on native vegetation, but also negatively affects invertebrate communities. The overall abundance, biomass and diversity of invertebrates in plots invaded by exotic knotweed were strongly reduced compared to control plots. Exotic plant species are in general introduced without their specific natural enemies and are also often less palatable to generalist herbivores. In accordance with this, we found reduced diversity for herbivore invertebrates in knotweed patches. In addition, a negative effect of exotic knotweeds could also be detected in other trophic groups (predators, detritivores). However, not all invertebrate groups responded in the same way, and species number for ground beetles was in fact highest in knotweed stands. Ground beetles might nevertheless be negatively affected by these exotic plants as indicated by reduced size of Abax parallelepipedus (Carabidae) individuals captured in knotweed, presumably resulting in a reduced fitness of individuals.