Biological Invasions (2014) 16, 191-203
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Applying competition theory to invasion: resource impacts indicate invasion mechanisms in California shrublands
Biological Invasions 16 (1), 191-203
Abstract: Despite widespread work documenting invasion, it remains a challenge to determine invasion mechanisms and incorporate them into invasive species management. Competition theory presents a strong model for evaluating the role of resource reduction and requirements in invasion. Additionally, alternative models suggest fluctuations in resources, niche differences, or non-resource priority effects are key factors determining invasion success. We propose a comparative framework that incorporates resource impacts of native and invasive species, performance in controlled invasion trials, and long-term natural invasion patterns to elucidate relative importance of these invasion mechanisms. To demonstrate this framework, we established monocultures of two representative native and two invasive plant species in Southern California's coastal sage scrub (CSS), measured resource impacts (i.e., R*), and conducted invasion trials to test whether resource impacts predicted invasion success. We then related experimental results to field invasion patterns. Compared to exotic herbaceous species, native shrubs were associated with greater resource depletion of key resources: light, soil water (at multiple depths), and soil inorganic nitrogen (particularly at depth). In invasion trials, natives resisted invasion by the exotics, as resource depletion measures would predict. However, these results did not follow long-term natural invasion patterns indicating that these exotic species invade areas once dominated by native shrubland. Applying our results to the invasion framework, we conclude that disturbance, or a similar mechanism causing resources to fluctuate, is needed for exotics to invade CSS habitats. This resource-based comparative analysis of invasion mechanisms can point out important processes and help suggest effective management actions.
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Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation
Pest and/or beneficial records: