Showing papers in "Biological Invasions in 2010"
TL;DR: As alien insects continue to establish and spread in forests of eastern North America, their already pervasive effects on ecological interactions and ecosystem processes will continue to magnify.
Abstract: Alien invasive insects such as gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, and emerald ash borer continue to disturb the mixed deciduous and hemlock forests of eastern North America by causing wide-scale defoliation, decline and/or mortality of their hosts. Some of the most devastating species are spreading in “defense free space”, causing extensive mortality of hosts that are inherently susceptible, perhaps due to their lack of coevolutionary history with the invader. These disturbances have altered the dynamics of canopy gaps, coarse woody debris, biogeochemical cycling, and ecological interactions among organisms in terrestrial and aquatic systems, with consequent effects on forest composition, structure, and function. Populations of indigenous species specialized to particular habitats and/or host trees are most likely to decrease, while some generalist and opportunistic species may increase in invaded forests, including exotic plants as their facilitation by alien insects sparks an “invasional meltdown”. Although poorly documented, alien insects may induce positive feedback effects on ecological processes and interactions. For example, effects of herbivory on foliar chemistry may indirectly alter tri-trophic interactions of indigenous herbivores on their shared hosts, slow rates of terrestrial nutrient cycling, and decrease productivity of aquatic habitats based on allochthonous inputs. Tactics used to eradicate or suppress alien insects in forests such as insecticide applications, biological control, and silvicultural prescriptions can also have ecological impacts. As alien insects continue to establish and spread in forests of eastern North America, their already pervasive effects on ecological interactions and ecosystem processes will continue to magnify.
TL;DR: Bioclimatic envelope modeling is used to assess current climatic habitat, or lands climatically suitable for invasion, for three of the most dominant and aggressive invasive plants in the southeast United States: kudzu, privet, and cogongrass, and an ensemble of 12 atmosphere-ocean general circulation models are used to project changes in Climatic habitat for the three invasive species by 2100.
Abstract: Invasive plant species threaten native ecosystems, natural resources, and managed lands worldwide. Climate change may increase risk from invasive plant species as favorable climate conditions allow invaders to expand into new ranges. Here, we use bioclimatic envelope modeling to assess current climatic habitat, or lands climatically suitable for invasion, for three of the most dominant and aggressive invasive plants in the southeast United States: kudzu (Pueraria lobata), privet (Ligustrum sinense; L. vulgare), and cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). We define climatic habitat using both the Maxent and Mahalanobis distance methodologies, and we define the best climatic predictors based on variables that best ‘constrain’ species distributions and variables that ‘release’ the most land area if excluded. We then use an ensemble of 12 atmosphere-ocean general circulation models to project changes in climatic habitat for the three invasive species by 2100. The combined methodologies, predictors, and models produce a robust assessment of invasion risk inclusive of many of the approaches typically used individually to assess climate change impacts. Current invasion risk is widespread in southeastern states for all three species, although cogongrass invasion risk is more restricted to the Gulf Coast. Climate change is likely to enable all three species to greatly expand their ranges. Risk from privet and kudzu expands north into Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England states by 2100. Risk from cogongrass expands as far north as Kentucky and Virginia. Heightened surveillance and prompt eradication of small pockets of invasion in northern states should be a management priority.
TL;DR: A unified yet flexible national citizen science program aimed at tracking invasive species location, abundance, and control efforts could be designed using centralized data sharing and management tools, and a prototype for such a system is presented.
Abstract: Limited resources make it difficult to effectively document, monitor, and control invasive species across large areas, resulting in large gaps in our knowledge of current and future invasion patterns. We surveyed 128 citizen science program coordinators and interviewed 15 of them to evaluate their potential role in filling these gaps. Many programs collect data on invasive species and are willing to contribute these data to public databases. Although resources for education and monitoring are readily available, groups generally lack tools to manage and analyze data. Potential users of these data also retain concerns over data quality. We discuss how to address these concerns about citizen scientist data and programs while preserving the advantages they afford. A unified yet flexible national citizen science program aimed at tracking invasive species location, abundance, and control efforts could be designed using centralized data sharing and management tools. Such a system could meet the needs of multiple stakeholders while allowing efficiencies of scale, greater standardization of methods, and improved data quality testing and sharing. Finally, we present a prototype for such a system (see www.citsci.org).
TL;DR: Differences in data quality and availability between developed and developing countries make comparative analyses of biological invasions a difficult task, which creates a challenge in forming global strategies to deal with invasions.
Abstract: There is a strong bias concerning the regions of the globe where research on biological invasions is conducted, with notably lower represen- tation of developing countries. However, in develop- ing countries, effective management strategies to control invasions could be more beneficial in conserv- ing global biodiversity since these countries tend to have larger, highly diverse natural habitats. Lower levels of development are seen as an obstacle to tackling biological invasions, but little thought is given to the advantages of developing countries in dealing with invasive species. We analyzed differences between developed and developing countries regard- ing the problem of invasive species and their historical and current patterns of international trade, disturbance levels and land use, research and monitoring, control and mitigation, and social awareness. Developed nations have some advantages, especially in levels of social awareness and means for controlling and studying exotics, but developing nations also enjoy important advantages given their lower levels of international trade and the availability of low-cost labor. Also, there is evidence that the process of economic development, which results in more efficient ways to transform landscapes and increases interna- tional trade, is strongly associated with increasing rates of biological invasion. Differences in data quality and availability between developed and developing countries make comparative analyses of biological invasions a difficult task. Thus, these differences creates a challenge in forming global strategies to deal with invasions. There have been calls for creating international plans to deal with invasive species, but we believe that it is important first to acknowledge the challenges and understand both the advantages and disadvantages of developing countries.
TL;DR: The possibility of an extensive invasional meltdown occurring in central North America involving eleven Eurasian species is considered and opportunities for managing multiple invasive species simultaneously by targeting facilitator species and implications for biological control introductions against the soybean aphid are discussed.
Abstract: We consider the possibility of an extensive invasional meltdown occurring in central North America involving eleven Eurasian species. The scenario begins with the potential co-facilitation between the European earthworm Lumbricus terrestris and European buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica. Once introduced, European buckthorn has served as the overwintering host for two important invasive crop pests, oat crown rust, Puccinea coronata and the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines. The spread of R. cathartica itself may have been aided by seed dispersal by the European starling, Sturnus vulgaris, and the presence of L. terrestris has likely facilitated the invasion of Bipalium adventitium, an Asian predatory flatworm that specializes on earthworms. Beyond this, the soybean aphid is consumed by a number of introduced species, including the lady beetle Harmonia axyridis, the ground beetle Agonum muelleri and the parasitoid Aphelinus certus. We hypothesize that the presence of soybean aphid increases regional abundances of these species. We discuss both the evidence for this multi-species invasional meltdown scenario and potential implications of meltdown dynamics for invasive species management. The particular management issues that we discuss are: (1) opportunities for managing multiple invasive species simultaneously by targeting facilitator species, and (2) implications of meltdown dynamics for biological control introductions against the soybean aphid.
TL;DR: Crassostrea-reefs compensate for the conceivable loss of Mytilus-beds in the intertidal of the Wadden Sea by replacing the ecological function of M. edulis, which persisted at the site invaded by C. gigas.
Abstract: Since 1998 the non-indigenous Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas (Thunberg 1793) has been invading the Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony, southern German Bight. C. gigas settles predominantly on intertidal Mytilus-beds (M. edulis L.) and subsequently create rigid reef-like structures. Both bivalve species are ecosystem engineers in sedimentary tidal flats. They provide hard substrate for sessile species, mobile organisms find refuge within the habitat matrix of dense suspension feeders, and biodeposits enrich the sediments with organic matter. The transformation of Mytilus-beds into Crassostrea-reefs gives rise to the question whether the invader may affect the native community. We investigated two parts of a changing bivalve bed in the backbarrier area of the island of Juist in March 2005. One part was still dominated by M. edulis whereas the other part was already densely colonized by C. gigas. Crassostrea-reefs compensate for the conceivable loss of Mytilus-beds in the intertidal of the Wadden Sea by replacing the ecological function of M. edulis. There was no indication of a suppression of indigenous species. This even applied to M. edulis, which persisted at the site invaded by C. gigas. The associated macrofaunal community showed increased species richness, abundance, biomass, and diversity in the Crassostrea-reef. The latter particularly favored sessile species like anthozoans, hydrozoans, and barnacles. Higher abundance and biomass for vagile epizoic species like the shore crab Carcinus maenas and the periwinkle Littorina littorea also occurred among oysters. Abundance of deposit feeding oligochaetes was enhanced by oysters as well. More opportunistic, facultative filter-feeding polychaetes occurred in the Crassostrea-reef.
TL;DR: Stands of F. japonica had lower species diversity, but greater aboveground biomass and standing N than uninvaded areas, suggesting that retranslocation of photoassimilates and/or nutrients between shoots via rhizomatal connections may maximize stand level growth rates and facilitate dominance by F. Japonica.
Abstract: Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) invades riparian areas and roadsides in New England. This large clonal species drastically alters the appearance of habitats by forming highly productive near-monocultures. To understand how these invasions affect ecosystem processes in New England, we quantified the impacts of F. japonica on species diversity, primary productivity, and nitrogen cycling at five locations in central Massachusetts, USA. In stands of F. japonica and in adjacent uninvaded areas, we recorded the cover of each plant species and measured the aboveground biomass and nitrogen (N) concentrations in plants, along with N retranslocation from F. japonica leaves and several soil characteristics. In addition, we severed rhizomes of peripheral F. japonica shoots to determine if clonal integration contributes to the species’ rapid spread and dominance. Stands of F. japonica had lower species diversity, but greater aboveground biomass and standing N than uninvaded areas. Nitrogen and carbon concentrations in biomass and N mineralization rates in soil did not differ between stands and adjacent areas. Rhizome severing temporarily reduced growth of F. japonica, suggesting that retranslocation of photoassimilates and/or nutrients between shoots via rhizomatal connections may maximize stand level growth rates and facilitate dominance by F. japonica.
TL;DR: The conclusion is that biological control has brought about a considerable level of protection of ecosystem services, remains robust even when the estimates of the economic impacts of key variables (i.e. sensitivity analyses of indeterminate variables) were substantially reduced.
Abstract: This study is a first attempt at a holistic economic evaluation of South African endeavours to manage invasive alien plants using biological control. Our focus was on the delivery of ecosystem services from habitats that are invaded by groups of weeds, rather than by each individual weed species. We established the net present value of the weed biological control efforts, and derived benefit:cost ratios by comparing this value (a cost) to the estimated value of ecosystem services protected by weed biological control. We identified four major functional groupings of invading alien plants, and assessed their impact on water resources, grazing and biodiversity. We estimated the area that remained free of invasions due to all historic control efforts in South Africa, and the proportion that remained free of invasion as a result of biological control (which was initiated in 1913). The estimated value of potential ecosystem services amounted to 152 billion South African rands (ZAR—presently, about US$ 19.7 billion) annually. Although an estimated ZAR 6.5 billion was lost every year due to invading alien plants, this would have amounted to an estimated additional ZAR 41.7 billion had no control been carried out, and 5–75% of this protection was due to biological control. The benefit:cost ratios ranged from 50:1 for invasive sub-tropical shrubs to 3,726:1 for invasive Australian trees. Benefit:cost ratios remained positive and our conclusion, that biological control has brought about a considerable level of protection of ecosystem services, remains robust even when our estimates of the economic impacts of key variables (i.e. sensitivity analyses of indeterminate variables) were substantially reduced.
TL;DR: The results show that a non-native invasive plant inhibits native species establishment and growth following disturbance and that native species do not gain competitive dominance after multiple growing seasons, indicating that native plants are more strongly suppressed in densely invaded areas.
Abstract: Invasions of non-native species are considered to have significant impacts on native species, but few studies have quantified the direct effects of invasions on native community structure and composition. Many studies on the effects of invasions fail to distinguish between (1) differential responses of native and non-native species to environmental conditions, and (2) direct impacts of invasions on native communities. In particular, invasions may alter community assembly following disturbance and prevent recolonization of native species. To determine if invasions directly impact native communities, we established 32 experimental plots (27.5 m2) and seeded them with 12 native species. Then, we added seed of a non-native invasive grass (Microstegium vimineum) to half of the plots and compared native plant community responses between control and invaded plots. Invasion reduced native biomass by 46, 64, and 58%, respectively, over three growing seasons. After the second year of the experiment, invaded plots had 43% lower species richness and 38% lower diversity as calculated from the Shannon index. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination showed a significant divergence in composition between invaded and control plots. Further, there was a strong negative relationship between invader and native plant biomass, signifying that native plants are more strongly suppressed in densely invaded areas. Our results show that a non-native invasive plant inhibits native species establishment and growth following disturbance and that native species do not gain competitive dominance after multiple growing seasons. Thus, plant invaders can alter the structure of native plant communities and reduce the success of restoration efforts.
TL;DR: It is determined which arthropod species that are associated with ash may become threatened, endangered, and co-extinct with the demise of ash as a dominant tree species.
Abstract: Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) (EAB), an alien invasive wood-boring buprestid beetle, is causing large-scale decline and mortality of the most widely distributed species of ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees endemic to eastern North America. We determined which arthropod species that are associated with ash may become threatened, endangered, and co-extinct with the demise of ash as a dominant tree species. A literature survey revealed that 43 native arthropod species in six taxonomic groups (Arachnida: Acari; Hexapoda: Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera) are known to be associated only with ash trees for either feeding or breeding purposes, and thus face high risk of endangerment. Most of these species are gall-formers followed by folivores, subcortical phloem/xylem feeders, sap feeders, and seed predators. Another 30 arthropod species are associated with 1-2 host plants in addition to ash, and herbivory on these hosts may increase as these arthropods shift from declining ash trees. Extirpation of arthropods depen- dent upon ash may unleash multiple extinctions of affiliated species with which they may be inextricably linked. The demise of North American ash species due to EAB is expected to lead to biotic loss with cascading ecological impacts and altered processes within forested ecosystems.
TL;DR: It is recommended that aquarium owners be encouraged to pour aquarium wastes onto gardens or lawns—already a common method of disposal—as invasion risk will be minimised using this method.
Abstract: The aquarium trade has a long history of transporting and introducing fish, plants and snails into regions where they are not native. However, other than snails, research on species carried “incidentally” rather than deliberately by this industry is lacking. I sampled invertebrates in the plankton, and from water among bottom stones, of 55 aquaria from 43 New Zealand households. I recorded 55 incidental invertebrate taxa, including copepods, ostracods, cladocerans, molluscs, mites, flatworms and nematodes. Six were known established non-indigenous species, and eight others were not previously recorded from New Zealand. Of the latter, two harpacticoid copepod species, Nitokra pietschmanni and Elaphoidella sewelli, are not native to or known from New Zealand, demonstrating the aquarium trade continues to pose an invasion risk for incidental fauna. The remaining six species were littoral/benthic rotifers with subtropical/tropical affinities; these may or may not be native, as research on this group is limited. A variety of behaviours associated with the set-up and keeping of home aquaria were recorded (e.g., fish and plants in any home were sourced from stores, wild caught, or both, and cleaning methods varied), which made prediction of “high risk” behaviours difficult. However, non-indigenous species had a greater probability of being recorded in aquaria containing aquatic plants and in those that were heated. Methods for disposal of aquarium wastes ranged from depositing washings on the lawn or garden (a low risk for invasion) to disposing of water into outdoor ponds or storm-water drains (a higher risk). It is recommended that aquarium owners be encouraged to pour aquarium wastes onto gardens or lawns—already a common method of disposal—as invasion risk will be minimised using this method.
TL;DR: The diversity of the ecological characteristics of the plants suggests a potential of impacts that needs to be further assessed and the taxonomy, life traits and habitat of the 294 neophytes are analysed vs their naturalisation status.
Abstract: The aim of the paper is the state-of-the-art assessment of the alien flora of Greece and its traits. The dataset consists of a total of 343 alien taxa, including 49 archaeophytes. The taxonomy, life traits and habitat of the 294 neophytes are analysed vs their naturalisation status. Out of the 122 (41%) naturalised neophytes, 50 are identified as exhibiting invasive behaviour. Poaceae, Asteraceae, Amaranthaceae, Solanaceae, Fabaceae, and Polygonaceae are the plant families richest in alien taxa. The majority of them are of American origin, followed by those of Asiatic and Mediterranean origin. The neophytes are predominantly herbs, most of them annuals. Yet, the perennial life cycle is equally frequent with the annual one and the proportion of phanerophytes in the alien flora is increased compared to the one of the native flora. Regarding flowering traits, most of the aliens have a long flowering period (over 1 month) and flower in late spring, summer and autumn, when few of the native plants are in bloom. Vertebrate zoochory and anemochory are the two dispersal modes mostly utilised by the alien plants (43 and 28%, respectively), while more than one dispersal mechanisms are functional for 56% of them. Artificial habitats have the highest frequencies of alien plants. The natural habitats with the highest numbers of aliens are the coastal ones and inland surface waters. Opuntia ficus-barbarica, Ailanthus altissima, Oxalis pes-caprae, Erigeron bonariensis, Amaranthus albus and Symphyotrichum squamatum are typical cases of plants characterised as invasive, having established in almost all the habitat groups identified. The diversity of the ecological characteristics of the plants suggests a potential of impacts that needs to be further assessed.
TL;DR: The mechanism of impact of L. maackii on G. maculatum reproduction was increased understory shade, refuting the hypothesis of competition for pollinators and indicating pollinator-mediated impacts of invasive plants are not limited to periods of co-flowering or pollinator sharing between potential competitors.
Abstract: Plant invasions disrupt native plant reproduction directly via competition for light and other resources and indirectly via competition for pollination. Furthermore, shading by an invasive plant may reduce pollinator visitation and therefore reproduction in native plants. Our study quantifies and identifies mechanisms of these direct and indirect effects of an invasive shrub on pollination and reproductive success of a native herb. We measured pollinator visitation rate, pollen deposition, and female reproductive success in potted arrays of native Geranium maculatum in deciduous forest plots invaded by the non-native shrub Lonicera maackii and in two removal treatments: removal of aboveground L. maackii biomass and removal of flowers. We compared fruit and seed production between open-pollinated and pollen-supplemented plants to test for pollen and light limitation of reproduction. Plots with L. maackii had significantly lower light, pollinator visitation rate, and conspecific pollen deposition to G. maculatum than biomass removal plots. Loniceramaackii flower removal did not increase pollinator visitation or pollen deposition compared to unmanipulated invaded plots, refuting the hypothesis of competition for pollinators. Thus, pollinator-mediated impacts of invasive plants are not limited to periods of co-flowering or pollinator sharing between potential competitors. Geranium maculatum plants produced significantly fewer seeds in plots containing L. maackii than in plant removal plots. Seed set was similar between pollen-supplemented and open-pollinated plants, but pollen-supplemented plants exhibited higher seed set in plant removal plots compared to invaded plots. Therefore, we conclude that the mechanism of impact of L. maackii on G. maculatum reproduction was increased understory shade.
TL;DR: In the absence of predators, major climatic stress or other means to control the herbivore, deer browsing created greatly simplified plant and animal communities.
Abstract: Debate on the relative importance of competition for resources and trophic interactions in shaping the biological diversity of living communities remains unsettled after almost a century. Recently, dramatic increases in ungulate populations have provided a useful quasi-experiment on the effects of unrestrained ungulates on forest ecology. The islands of Haida Gwaii (Canada) offer a unique situation to investigate the potential of large herbivores to control temperate forest community structure and diversity. Black-tailed deer Odocoileus hemionus Merriam, native to adjacent mainland areas of British Columbia, were introduced in 1878 and spread to all but a few islands. Because deer were not native to the archipelago, islands that still lack deer provide a rare instance of temperate forest vegetation and fauna that developed in the absence of large herbivores. The colonisation of different islands at different times, and the absence of significant predation allow us to assess whether and how a large herbivore can exert “top-down” control on vegetation and its associated fauna. We studied plant communities in forest interior and shoreline, on seven small islands of varying browse history. Three islands were untouched by deer, deer had been resident for about 15 years on two, and on another two deer had been present for more than 50 years. Without deer, vegetation in the understorey and/or shrub layer was dense or very dense. Structure and composition varied markedly within and between shoreline and interior communities. Without deer, shoreline communities were dominated by species absent from islands with deer. Where deer had been present for less than 20 years most plant species characteristic of shorelines on islands without deer were already absent or scarce, but in the forest interior species richness was less affected and extensive shrub thickets remained. On islands where deer had been present for >50 years vegetation below the browse line was extremely simplified, converging in both forest interior and shoreline towards an open assemblage of a few deer-tolerant species, basically two coniferous trees. This top down effect on the plant community reflected up the food chain so that understorey invertebrate and shrub-dependent songbird communities became simplified. In contrast, species densities of litter arthropods (especially weevils and millipedes) were highest where deer were present for >50 years. Canopy birds were unaffected by deer presence. In the absence of predators, major climatic stress or other means to control the herbivore, deer browsing created greatly simplified plant and animal communities.
TL;DR: Monitoring for 6 years showed that the population explosion of the alien ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the southern Caspian Sea coincided with a decline in the abundance and species number of mesozooplankton, and some changes in the macrobenthic fauna were also conspicuous after the increase of this ctenophile.
Abstract: Monitoring for 6 years (2001–2006) showed that the population explosion of the alien ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the southern Caspian Sea coincided with a decline in the abundance and species number of mesozooplankton. While this decline appeared to have reduced the nourishment of sprat (also known as kilka), it seemed to have affected phytoplankton favorably mainly due to the decrease in grazing pressure. During 2001–2002, when M. leidyi abundance and biomass were at their highest levels, abundance of dinoflagellates and cyanophytes exceeded that of diatoms. Before the invasion (1996) and in some years after the invasion (2003, 2004 and 2006) diatom abundance was higher than the abundance of other groups. In September 2005, an unprecedented bloom of the toxic cyanophyte Nodularia sp. was observed in the southern Caspian Sea. Disappearance of edible zooplankton such as Eurytemora spp. was among the first changes observed after the expansion of M. leidyi in the area. Some changes in the macrobenthic fauna were also conspicuous after the increase of this ctenophore. While the biomass of some deposit feeders, such as the polychaete Nereis diversicolor and oligochaete species increased, benthic crustaceans decreased sharply in abundance during 2001–2003 and completely disappeared during 2004–2006. Iranian catches of kilka, the most abundant and widespread zooplanktivorous fish, decreased significantly in the southern Caspian Sea after 1999. Iranian landings of kilka dropped ~70% from 69,070 ± 20,270 t during 1995–2000 to 23,430 ± 12,240 t during 2001–2006, resulting in a loss of at least 125 million US dollars to the economy. There were also changes in the total catches of large predators such as the kutum and mullet, which mainly feed on kilka, between 1991 and 2006.
TL;DR: Radio-tracking demonstrated that while adult carp overwinter in deep lakes that do not winterkill, they aggressively move into winterkill-prone shallow regions in the spring to spawn, presumably allowing carp to exploit nursery habitat that is relatively free of predators.
Abstract: Although the common carp is globally distributed, it only reaches extreme densities in certain regions. We hypothesized that this phenomenon might be linked to recruitment bottlenecks which carp overcome where environmental conditions create unstable peripheral areas that it can access for spawning and nursery habitat. To test this hypothesis, the abundance, movement and reproductive success of carp was determined in two systems of inter-connected lakes in the North American Midwest whose shallow basins frequently experience winter-hypoxia (‘winterkill’). Radio-tracking demonstrated that while adult carp overwinter in deep lakes that do not winterkill, they aggressively move into winterkill-prone shallow regions in the spring to spawn. The significance of this behavior was demonstrated by ageing analyses which found that carp recruit only in interconnected shallow lakes and then only in years following severe winter hypoxia. Presumably this strategy allows carp to exploit nursery habitat that is relatively free of predators. It likely evolved in response to seasonally variable conditions in the carp’s native habitat in the Ponto-Caspian region. This life history may also explain the carp’s abundance in other unstable regions such as southern Australia and could potentially be exploited to control this damaging invasive.
TL;DR: The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) first invaded North America in 1990 when it was discovered in the St. Clair River, and recently, it was captured from several Great Lakes tributaries known as species-at-risk hotspots.
Abstract: The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) first invaded North America in 1990 when it was discovered in the St. Clair River. Despite more than 15 years of potential invasion, many Great Lakes’ lotic systems remained uninvaded. Recently, we captured the round goby from several Great Lakes tributaries known as species-at-risk hotspots. With a combination of field sampling of round gobies and literature review of the impact of round gobies on native taxa, we assess the potential impacts of the secondary invasion to native species using three mechanisms: competition; predation; and indirect impacts from the loss of obligate mussel hosts. We estimate that 89% (17/19) of benthic fishes and 17% (6/36) of mussels that occur in these systems are either known or suspected to be impacted by the secondary invasion of round goby. In particular, we note that the distribution of potential impacts of round goby invasion was largely associated with species with a conservation designation, including seven endangered species (1 fish, 6 mussels). As these recent captures of round goby represent novel occurrences in high diversity watersheds, understanding the potential impacts of secondary invasion to native biota is fundamental to prevent species declines and to allow early mitigation.
TL;DR: Stable isotope analysis (SIA) revealed significant trophic overlap between P. parva, R. rutilus and C. erythrophthalmus as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Introduction of the invasive Asian cyprinid fish Pseudorasbora parva into a 0.3 ha pond in England with a fish assemblage that included Cyprinus carpio, Rutilus rutilus and Scardinius erythrophthalmus resulted in their establishment of a numerically dominant population in only 2 years; density estimates exceeded 60 ind. m−2 and they comprised >99% of fish present. Stable isotope analysis (SIA) revealed significant trophic overlap between P. parva, R. rutilus and C. carpio, a shift associated with significantly depressed somatic growth in R. rutilus. Despite these changes, fish community composition remained similar between the ponds. Comparison with SIA values collected from an adjacent pond free of P. parva revealed a simplified food web in P. parva presence, but with an apparent trophic position shift for several fishes, including S. erythrophthalmus which appeared to assimilate energy at a higher trophic level, probably through P. parva consumption. The marked isotopic shifts shown in all taxa in the P. parva invaded pond (13C-enriched, 15N depleted) were indicative of a shift to a cyanobacteria-dominated phytoplankton community. These findings provide an increased understanding of the ecological consequences of the ongoing P. parva invasion of European freshwater ecosystems.
TL;DR: This study shows that introduced deer can aid the invasion of non-native tree species through negatively affecting native plant species.
Abstract: Invasive species are a major threat to native communities and ecosystems worldwide. One factor frequently invoked to explain the invasiveness of exotic species is their release in the new habitat from control by natural enemies (enemy-release hypothesis). More recently, interactions between exotic species have been proposed as a potential mechanism to facilitate invasions (invasional melt- down hypothesis). We studied the effects of intro- duced deer on native plant communities and exotic plant species on an island in Patagonia, Argentina using five 400 m 2 exclosures paired with control areas in an Austrocedrus chilensis native forest stand. We hypothesized that introduced deer modify native understory composition and abundance and facilitate invasion of introduced tree species that have been widely planted in the region. After 4 years of deer exclusion, native Austrocedrus and exotic Pseudots- uga menziesii tree sapling abundances are not differ- ent inside and outside exclosures. However, deer browsing has strongly inhibited growth of native tree saplings (relative height growth is 77% lower with deer present), while exotic tree sapling growth is less affected (relative height growth is 3.3% lower). Deer significantly change abundance and composition of native understory plants. Cover of native plants in exclosures increased while cover in controls remained constant. Understory composition in exclosures after only 4 years differs greatly from that in controls, mainly owing to the abundance of highly-browsed native species. This study shows that introduced deer can aid the invasion of non-native tree species through negatively affecting native plant species.
TL;DR: A Chapman-modified, continuous Schnabel mark-recapture population and biomass estimate for silver carp in the La Grange reach, Illinois River during 2007–2008 provides a target for reduction efforts and emphasizes the importance of the Lagrange reach as a source population for potential expansion of the species to the Laurentian Great Lakes.
Abstract: Invasive silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) populations have expanded greatly in the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) since their introduction in the early 1970s. We conducted a Chapman-modified, continuous Schnabel mark-recapture population and biomass estimate for silver carp (106–901 mm) in the La Grange reach, Illinois River during 2007–2008. We estimated a total of 328,192 (95% CI 231,226–484,474) silver carp (2,544 per river km 1,792–3,756) comprising 705 (95% CI; 496–1,040) metric tons of biomass (5.5 metric tons per river km 3.8–8.1). Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data from the La Grange reach showed an exponential increase in silver carp catches since 1998, with an intrinsic rate of increase approaching 84%. In 2008, silver carp comprised about 51% of the total LTRMP annual fish collection. To our knowledge, this large river reach may contain the greatest ambient densities of wild silver carp in the world. Our findings provide a target for reduction efforts and also emphasize the importance of the La Grange reach as a source population for potential expansion of the species to the Laurentian Great Lakes.
TL;DR: It is suggested that the lower extent of alien plant invasions in African savannas is largely attributable to: significantly lower rates of intentional plant introductions and widespread plantings (until recently); the role of large mammalian herbivores in these ecosystems; and the adaptation of African systems to fire.
Abstract: Biological invasions affect virtually all ecosystems on earth, but the degree to which different regions and biomes are invaded, and the quality of information from different regions, varies greatly. A large body of literature exists on the invasion of savannas in the Neotropics and northern Australia where invasive plants, especially African grasses, have had major impacts. Less has been published on plant invasions in African savannas, except for those in South Africa. Negative impacts due to plant invasions in African savannas appear to be less severe than in other regions at present. As savannas cover about 60% of the continent, with tens of millions of people relying on the services they provide, it is timely to assess the current status of invasions as a threat to these ecosystems. We reviewed the literature, contrasting the African situation with that of Neotropical and Australian savannas. A number of drivers and explanatory factors of plant invasions in savannas have been described, mostly from the Neotropics and Australia. These include herbivore presence, residence time, intentional introductions for pasture improvements, fire regimes, the physiology of the introduced species, and anthropogenic disturbance. After comparing these drivers across the three regions, we suggest that the lower extent of alien plant invasions in African savannas is largely attributable to: (1) significantly lower rates of intentional plant introductions and widespread plantings (until recently); (2) the role of large mammalian herbivores in these ecosystems; (3) historical and biogeographical issues relating to the regions of origin of introduced species; and (4) the adaptation of African systems to fire. We discuss how changing conditions in the three regions are likely to affect plant invasions in the future.
TL;DR: Using bibliometric analysis, it is investigated the extent to which the literature on the subject contributes to implementation of knowledge generated, by addressing aspects of management, policy, and/or implementation; the impact of these papers as indicated by the number of citations they attract; and the geopolitical scale of focus of invasion ecology papers, particularly those that attempt to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
Abstract: Invasion biology is a growing discipline with clear ecological, social and economic implications. A wide range of research effort is thus required to address the invasion problem, and literature on the topic is extensive. However, the extent to which the invasion biology research is addressing the challenges associated with management and mitigation of the impacts of invasions has been questioned. Using bibliometric analysis, we investigated the extent to which the literature on the subject contributes to implementation of knowledge generated, by addressing aspects of management, policy, and/or implementation; the impact of these papers as indicated by the number of citations they attract; and the geopolitical scale of focus of invasion ecology papers, particularly those that attempt to bridge the knowing-doing gap. We then compared these findings with the information needs of conservation practitioners. We first looked globally at popular search engines and then narrowed our focus to South Africa—one of three regions outside USA where researchers producing highly cited papers in invasion ecology are well represented. At this level, we conducted a content analysis of invasion ecology-related papers, of which at least one author was affiliated to a South African institution. The knowledge base in the field of invasion biology is comprised largely of research oriented towards “knowing”, while research aimed at strategically applying or implementing that knowledge is poorly represented in the scientific literature, and the scale of its emphasis is not local. Conservation practitioners clearly indicate a need for basic knowledge. However, invasion science must develop channels for effective engagement to ensure that the research is contextualised, and will deal with the complex ecological, social and economic challenges posed by invasions.
TL;DR: Exotic plants may represent an ephemeral ecological trap for certain nesting birds, where negative effects persist only during certain periods, as illustrated by decreased predation in Lonicera as the relative proportion of nests in native substrates increased.
Abstract: Certain exotic plants may increase risk of nest predation, and, in this way, may act as ecological traps. We hypothesized that the greater vulnerability to predation was a consequence of either (1) reduced nest height due to architectural differences among plant species or (2) seasonal changes in the distribution of nests among forest strata. To test this, we examined temporal variation in nest survival of 888 nests of Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in native substrates and two exotic shrubs (Lonicera maackii and Rosa multiflora) in Ohio, USA, 2001–2006. We evaluated evidence for an ecological trap by monitoring the annual reproductive productivity of 245 breeding pairs of cardinals. Only nests in Rosa experienced relatively constant survival rates across the season, whereas probability of survival increased over the season for nests in other substrates. Interestingly, the relative vulnerability of nests in different substrates varied across the season. Most strikingly, nests in Lonicera in early spring showed the lowest survival rates but exceeded survival rates of nests in native substrates late in the season. Nest height failed to explain seasonal changes in nest survival, as only nests in native plants significantly increased in height as the season progressed. Rather, predation risk seemed to be a function of the proportion of nests within each substrate, as illustrated by the decreased predation in Lonicera as the relative proportion of nests in native substrates increased. The patterns of temporal variation in predation risk that we detected show that impacts of Lonicera are not a function of plant architecture alone and may be related to leaf phenology, changes in nest density, nest site location, and/or nest synchrony. Examination of the reproductive productivity of cardinals showed that pairs that made their first nest attempt in Lonicera fledged 20% fewer cardinal young than birds that began the season using other substrates. Thus, we suggest that exotic plants may represent an ephemeral ecological trap for certain nesting birds, where negative effects persist only during certain periods.
TL;DR: To understand how non-native invasive species and native species are distributed along paved and unpaved roads, in a montaneous grassland ecosystem such as the Brazilian rupestrian fields, two road surfaces provide differing gradients from their edges with respect to nutrients, soil chemical aspects and plant species diversity.
Abstract: One of the most important disturbances of roads is the facilitation of the increase of non-native invasive species into adjacent plant communities. The rupestrian fields of Serra do Cipo, a montane grassland ecosystem in southeastern Brazil, are recognized for their enormous richness of species and endemism rates. The presence of non-native invasive species in this ecosystem could threaten the existence of the native flora and its associated organisms. The aim of this study is to understand how non-native invasive species and native species are distributed along paved and unpaved roads, in a montaneous grassland ecosystem such as the Brazilian rupestrian fields. The two road surfaces provide differing gradients from their edges with respect to nutrients, soil chemical aspects and plant species diversity. High content of calcium at the roadside in the paved road resulted from the paving process, in which limestone gravel is used in one of the several paving phases. In these newly created habitats the toxicity of aluminum is drastically reduced and nutrient enriched, hence representing favorable sites from where non-native invasive species are capable to colonize and grow for undetermined period waiting the chance to invade the adjacent pristine habitats. Disturbances provoked by any natural or human-caused event can provide the opportunity for the non-native invasive species to colonize new plant communities.
TL;DR: It is demonstrated, for the first time, that native and introduced populations of Phragmites can hybridize, implying a mechanism for the further decline of native PhragMites in North America and a potential for the formation of aggressive hybrid offspring.
Abstract: Interspecific hybridization can lead to the extinction of native populations and increased aggressiveness in hybrid forms relative to their parental lineages. However, interbreeding among subspecies is less often recognized as a serious threat to native species. Phragmites australis offers an excellent opportunity to investigate intraspecific hybridization since both native and introduced lineages occur in North America. Introduced Phragmites is a highly successful estuarine plant invader throughout North America, but native Phragmites populations are declining in the eastern US. Despite range overlaps, hybridization has not yet been detected between the native and introduced lineages in the wild, suggesting that phenological or physiological barriers preclude cross-pollination. We demonstrate, for the first time, that native and introduced populations of Phragmites can hybridize. There is substantial overlap in flowering period between native and introduced populations from the same geographic locations. We manually cross-pollinated native individuals with pollen from introduced Phragmites and recovered viable offspring. We then used microsatellite markers to prove that alleles unique to the pollen parent were transferred to progeny. Our results imply a mechanism for the further decline of native Phragmites in North America and a potential for the formation of aggressive hybrid offspring.
TL;DR: Age and height structure indicate that the invasion process of Pinus contorta is at an early stage, and this offers a unique opportunity to study the process of invasion and to monitor it over time.
Abstract: Alien conifer invasions are affecting ecosystems across the globe, but until recently, reports of such invasions in South America were scarce. Pinus contorta was first established in Chilean Patagonia for erosion control caused by historical fires and cattle farming. Recently, the species has been planted over large areas for commercial purposes. It is well adapted to local conditions and is now spreading into natural areas. This study analyzes natural regeneration of Pinus contorta around Coyhaique city, Chile, to determine the spatial patterns of invasion. Five study sites were selected, four with grasslands dominated by exotic species and one site in the steppe. In each site, the plantation (seed source) was characterized using morphological attributes and density. Regeneration, density, height and age at different distances from the seed source were recorded, and ground cover was measured as an environmental factor influencing the invasion process. A comparative analysis was also conducted between the situation in Chile and other countries affected by P. contorta invasion. In Chile, P. contorta regeneration is significantly influenced by distance from the seed source. Higher densities are found close to the parent stand (up to 13,222 trees ha−1), decreasing as distance from the seed source increases. Age and height structure indicate that the invasion process is at an early stage, and this offers a unique opportunity to study the process of invasion and to monitor it over time. In order to preserve the distinctiveness of Patagonian ecosystem, decisive action is required to control invasive conifers, with P. contorta as the number one priority. Relative to control, there is much that can be learnt from the experiences of other countries, such as New Zealand.
TL;DR: It is concluded that in the Sierras Chicas glossy privet has become a widespread invader, changing the patterns of vertical structure, diversity, and regeneration in native forests.
Abstract: Glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is a tree native to China that successfully invades forests of central Argentina. To fully understand glossy privet’s ecological effects on native forest, it is necessary to accurately map the distribution of glossy privet stands and the changes in biodiversity and forest structure of the invaded areas. The objectives of this paper were (1) to map the distribution of glossy privet stands in an area representative of the Sierras Chicas (Cordoba, Argentina) and (2) compare composition, structure and regeneration between glossy privet invaded stands and native forest stands. Using four Landsat TM images (October 2005, March, May and July 2006) we mapped the distribution of a glossy privet-dominated stand using a support vector machine, a non-parametric classifier. We recorded forest structure variables and tree diversity on 105 field plots. Glossy privet-dominated stands occupied 3,407 ha of the total forested land in the study area (27,758 ha), had an average of 33 glossy privet trees (dbh > 2.5 cm) per plot and the cover of their shrub and herb strata was substantially reduced compared with native forest. Forest regeneration was dominated by glossy privet in native forest stands adjacent to glossy privet-dominated stands. We conclude that in the Sierras Chicas glossy privet has become a widespread invader, changing the patterns of vertical structure, diversity, and regeneration in native forests.
TL;DR: Data is presented on the current distribution, abundance and age-structure in Denmark, Sweden and Norway of the Pacific oyster, which has become a successful invader in many areas, leading to major ecosystem changes.
Abstract: The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) is an important aquaculture species world-wide. Due to its wide environmental tolerance and high growth rate, it has also become a successful invader in many areas, leading to major ecosystem changes. Low water temperatures were previously believed to restrict the establishment of Pacific oysters in Scandinavia. However, recent surveys reveal that the Pacific oyster is now established in many areas in Scandinavia. The biomass of oysters in the Danish Wadden Sea has increased dramatically between 2005 and 2007, large numbers were observed along the Swedish west coast from settlement in 2006, and in Norway, populations are established along the southwest coast to 60°N.
TL;DR: Examination of the horticultural trade as a vector for invasive species, its agents, and the complexity of the distribution channel finds involvement and education of consumers may provide better oversight outcomes by addressing the moral hazard problem while acknowledging the key characteristics of the industry.
Abstract: Historically the horticultural industry has transformed the US landscape through intentional cultivar introductions and unintentional introductions of weeds, insects and plant diseases. While it has been demonstrated that the horticultural industry, in particular the ornamental subsector, is an important vector for the introduction and dispersal of invasive species, known invasive plants continue to be sold while new cultivars are introduced at an ever increasing rate. This study examines the horticultural trade as a vector for invasive species, its agents, and characterizes the complexity of the distribution channel. Numerous factors have contributed to the recent expansion in marketed cultivars, including technological, industry growth, and marketing developments. The result has been an increased and sophisticated consumer demand with a corresponding aggressive scouring of the planet for new crops, many of which are introduced into the market without sufficient testing for invasive tendencies. Traditional approaches to invasive horticultural crop control (regulation, self-regulation), which target players in the distribution channel before and/or after cultivar release, have had limited effectiveness and buy-in because these approaches do not address the industry’s complexities and economic incentives. Involvement and education of consumers may provide better oversight outcomes by addressing the moral hazard problem while acknowledging the key characteristics of the industry.
TL;DR: Vehicle cleaning and transportation guidelines have been revised to enhance the biosecurity of BAS operations, and to minimise the risk of similar incidents occurring, after four construction vehicles were imported to the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station in December 2005.
Abstract: Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems currently include very few non-native species, due to the continent’s extreme isolation from other landmasses However, the indigenous biota is vulnerable to human-mediated introductions of non-native species In December 2005, four construction vehicles were imported by contractors to the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station (Antarctic Peninsula) from the Falkland Islands and South Georgia (South Atlantic) on board RRS James Clark Ross The vehicles were contaminated with >132 kg of non-Antarctic soil that contained viable non-native angiosperms, bryophytes, micro-invertebrates, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, and c 40,000 seeds and numerous moss propagules The incident was a significant contravention of BAS operating procedures, the UK Antarctic Act (1994) and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1998), which all prohibit the introduction of non-native species to Antarctica without an appropriate permit The introduction of this diverse range of species poses a significant threat to local biodiversity should any of the species become established, particularly as the biota of sub-Antarctic South Georgia is likely to include many species with appropriate pre-adaptations facilitating the colonisation of more extreme Antarctic environments Once the incident was discovered, the imported soil was removed immediately from Antarctica and destroyed Vehicle cleaning and transportation guidelines have been revised to enhance the biosecurity of BAS operations, and to minimise the risk of similar incidents occurring