Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Biochar Rescues Native Trees in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot

Version 1 : Received: 30 December 2021 / Approved: 4 January 2022 / Online: 4 January 2022 (12:37:04 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Sujeeun, L.; Thomas, S.C. Biochar Rescues Native Trees in the Biodiversity Hotspot of Mauritius. Forests 2022, 13, 277. Sujeeun, L.; Thomas, S.C. Biochar Rescues Native Trees in the Biodiversity Hotspot of Mauritius. Forests 2022, 13, 277.


Many tropical invasive species have allelopathic effects that contribute to their success in native plant communities. Pyrolyzed biomass (“biochar”) can sorb toxic compounds, including allelochemicals produced by invasive plants, potentially reducing their inhibitory effects on native species. Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) is among the most important allelopathic invasive species in tropical islands and recognized as the most serious invasive species threat in the global biodiversity hotspot of Mauritius. We investigated the effects of additions of locally produced biochar on native tree species in a field experiment conducted in areas invaded by strawberry guava within Mauritius’ largest national park. Growth and survivorship of native tree species were monitored over 2 ½ years in plots subjected to four treatments: non-weeded, weeded, weeded + 25 t/ha biochar and weeded + 50 t/ha biochar. Native tree growth and survivorship were strongly suppressed by strawberry guava. Biochar treatments dramatically increased native tree performance, with more than a doubling in growth, and substantially increased native tree survivorship and species diversity, while suppressing strawberry guava regeneration, consistent with growth-promoting properties and sorption of allelochemicals. We conclude that biochars, including “sustainable biochars” produced from locally accessible biomass using low-tech pyrolysis systems, have considerable potential to counteract effects of allelopathic invaders and increase the capacity for native species regeneration in tropical island ecosystems.


allelopathy; biochar; invasive species; island ecosystems; Psidium cattleianum


Biology and Life Sciences, Forestry

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