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Seed dispersal and tree legacies influence spatial patterns of plant invasion dynamics

March 23, 2023

Invasive plant species alter community dynamics and ecosystem properties, potentially leading to regime shifts. Here, the invasion of a non-native tree species into a stand of native tree species is simulated using an agent-based model. The model describes an invasive tree with fast growth and high seed production that produces litter with a suppressive effect on native seedlings, based loosely on Melaleuca quinquenervia, invasive to southern Florida. The effect of a biocontrol agent, which reduces the invasive tree's growth and reproductive rates, is included to study how effective biocontrol is in facilitating the recovery of native trees. Even under biocontrol, the invader has some advantages over native tree species, such as the ability to tolerate higher stem densities than the invaded species and its litter's seedling suppression effect. We also include a standing dead component of both species, where light interception from dead canopy trees influences neighboring tree demographics. The model is applied to two questions. The first is how the mean seedling dispersal rate affects the spread of the invading species into a pure stand of natives, assuming the same mean dispersal distance for both species. For assumed litter seedling suppression that roughly balances the fitness levels of the two species, which species dominates depends on the mean dispersal distance. The invader dominates at both very high and very low mean seedling dispersal distances, while the native tree dominates for dispersal distances in the intermediate range. The second question is how standing dead trees affect either the rate of spread of the invader or the rate of recovery of the native species. The legacy of standing dead invasive trees may delay the recovery of native vegetation. The results here are novel and show that agent-based modeling is essential in illustrating how the fine-scale modeling of local interactions of trees leads to effects at the population level.

Publication Year 2023
Title Seed dispersal and tree legacies influence spatial patterns of plant invasion dynamics
DOI 10.3389/fams.2023.1086781
Authors Yuanming Lu, Junfei Xia, Lukas J. Magee, Don DeAngelis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
Index ID 70242917
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center