Journal of Applied Ecology (2014) 51, 825-834

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Aaron S. Weed and Mark Schwarzländer (2014)
Density dependence, precipitation and biological control agent herbivory influence landscape-scale dynamics of the invasive Eurasian plant Linaria dalmatica
Journal of Applied Ecology 51 (3), 825-834
Abstract: Resource availability and natural enemies are among the most commonly cited mechanisms affecting competitive ability of invasive plants, but their simultaneous effects on plant dynamics are seldom evaluated in the field. Understanding how endogenous and exogenous factors affect invasive plant abundance is essential when evaluating the impact of classical weed biological control agents because misinterpretations of the mechanisms regulating plant demography may bias inference of herbivore impact.
In this study, we report results from a citizen-science monitoring programme initiated to evaluate the effects of the stem-mining weevil Mecinus janthiniformis on the Eurasian invasive weed Dalmatian toadflax Linaria dalmatica. We used a discrete model of population dynamics to evaluate the relative importance of endogenous and exogenous processes affecting changes in ramet density of L. dalmatica at 38 spatially replicated sites in Idaho, USA.
Analysis of per-capita population growth rates based on ramet density indicated the presence of direct density dependence, which was most likely due to intraspecific competition. Changes in ramet density were not influenced by the abundance of the resident plant community.
Precipitation had a strong, positive effect on ramet density of L. dalmatica, while the abundance of M. janthiniformis had a weaker, but significant, negative effect after accounting for the density dependence. There was no support for an interactive effect between precipitation and herbivory.
Synthesis and applications. Our results indicate that biological control is an important factor affecting weed population growth at the landscape scale, but they also suggest that biological control impact may vary considerably on local infestations due to site-specific variation in rainfall and density-dependent processes. We recommend that invasive plant management strategies integrate precipitation and biological control agent monitoring into their programmes to estimate expected biological control efficacy. Alternative control methods should be prioritized in areas where herbivore impact is expected to be low.
(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): Aaron S. Weed

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
environment - cropping system/rotation
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
environment/habitat manipulation

Pest and/or beneficial records:

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

Linaria dalmatica (weed) U.S.A. (NW)
Mecinus janthiniformis (weed bioagent) Linaria dalmatica (weed) U.S.A. (NW)