Cryptostegia madagascariensis Bojer ex Decne. is a shrubby species capable of forming populational massifs in several niches of caatinga and its related ecosystems, especially in the most humid sites, that may change the characteristics of native vegetation, triggering the disappearance of autochthonous species. This study aimed to identify the impacts caused by the invader on the floristic composition and the structure of the shrub-arboreal component. Three areas of investigation were selected, they were termed by: Ambience I - area with a high intensity of invasion, Ambience II - the transition area between I and III (medium intensity), and Ambience III - area with a low intensity of invasion. For the inventory of those areas, it was used the point-centered sampling method (Quarter Method), considering adults those plants that presented the diameter at ground level (DGL) greater than or equal to 3 cm, and height greater than or equal to 1m. For the evaluation of the structure the conventional phytosociological parameters were analyzed, beyond indices of Diversity, Equitability and Environmental Impact of Exotics (IEIE). In the Ambience, I Cryptostegia madagascariensis was responsible for 82% of density, while in the Ambiences II and III, the density of the species was severally reduced (14.2% and 9.6%, respectively). The diversity, according to the Shannon-Weiner index, was low for the Ambience I (0.85) and higher for the Ambiences II and III (2.67 e 2.50, respectively). Results demonstrate that Cryptostegia madagascariensis affects severely the diversity and the structure of invaded communities, causing loss in the autochthonal biodiversity of caatinga.
exotic species; biological invasion; semiarid