Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Simulation of post-hurricane impact on invasive species with biological control management

December 18, 2019

Understanding the effects of hurricanes and other large storms on ecological communities and the post-event recovery in these communities can guide management and ecosystem restoration. This is particularly important for communities impacted by invasive species, as the hurricane may affect control efforts. Here we consider the effect of a hurricane on tree communities in southern Florida that has been invaded by Melaleuca quinquevervia (melaleuca), an invasive Australian tree. Biological control agents were introduced starting in the 1990s and are reducing melaleuca in habitats where they are established. We used size-structured matrix modeling as a tool to project the continued possible additional effects of a hurricane on a pure stand of melaleuca that already had some level of biological control. The model results indicate that biological control could suppress or eliminate melaleuca within decades. A hurricane that does severe damage to the stand may accelerate the trend toward elimination of melaleuca with both strong and moderate biological control. However, if the biological control is weak, the stand is resilient to all but extremely severe hurricane damage. Although only a pure melaleuca stand was simulated in this study, other plants, such as natives, are likely to accelerate the decline of melaleuca due to competition. Our model provides a new tool to simulate post-hurricanes effect on invasive species and highlights the essential role that biological control has played on invasive species management.

Publication Year 2020
Title Simulation of post-hurricane impact on invasive species with biological control management
DOI 10.3934/dcds.2020038
Authors Linhao Xu, Marya Claire Zdechlik, Melissa C. Smith, Min B. Rayamajhi, Don DeAngelis, Bo Zhang
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Discrete & Continuous Dynamical Systems-A
Index ID 70207414
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center