Biological Invasions (2010) 12, 1377-1388

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Peter A. Williams, John M. Kean and Rowan P. Buxton (2010)
Multiple factors determine the rate of increase of an invading non-native tree in New Zealand
Biological Invasions 12 (5), 1377-1388
Abstract: We reconstructed the invasion of a non-native tree (hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna) into fire-induced grassland in montane South Island, New Zealand. Using the relationship between height and age to reconstruct the rate of increase of the population, we identified three distinct invasion phases. We hypothesised that these related to the abundance of woody vegetation and therefore of non-native blackbirds (Turdus merula), the primary disperser of hawthorn in this environment. From the 1930s to 1959, increase was relatively slow, with hawthorn spread probably constrained due to browsing of seedlings by European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the low abundance of a native N-fixing shrub (matagouri, Discaria toumatou) providing few perches and nesting sites for blackbirds and safe sites for hawthorn establishment. Subsequently, from 1959 to 1976, hawthorn showed greater than six fold acceleration in its rate of population increase, resulting largely from intensive rabbit control, less frequent fires, and aerial topdressing of phosphate fertilizer promoting the growth of matagouri scrub. In addition, maturing hawthorn trees provided additional food and nesting sites for blackbirds. Hawthorn population increase slowed again from 1976, possibly because most suitable habitat in the immediate vicinity of the population neared saturation. From this case study we have constructed a general hypothesis for the factors determining the rate of invasion of matagouri-grassland habitats by bird-dispersed non-native woody plants in montane New Zealand.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Peter A. Williams

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Oryctolagus cuniculus New Zealand
Crataegus monogyna (weed) New Zealand