Effect of Interspecific Competition and Herbivory on the Recruitment of an Invasive Alien Plant: Conyza sumatrensis
- Cite this article as:
- Case, C. & Crawley, M. Biological Invasions (2000) 2: 103. doi:10.1023/A:1010084305933
Most studies on the spread of a species have been carried out retrospectively. Conyza sumatrensis provides an exception; it has only been in Great Britain since 1984 and thereby provides the opportunity to follow an invasion from its early stages. Many different factors could lead to the exclusion of invading species from new habitats. Here we report results of a field experiment to determine the recruitment ability and population dynamics of C. sumatrensis within treatments of different levels of interspecific competition and herbivory over three years. Interspecific competition was manipulated using three cultivation treatments giving low, medium and high intensity competition. Factorial combinations of mollusc, insect and vertebrate (rabbit) herbivory were achieved using both chemical and physical exclusion techniques. We show that although C. sumatrensis recruitment occurs in areas where disturbance has caused low interspecific competition, maintenance of a population during secondary succession is unlikely. Effects of herbivory were dependent on the type of herbivory and the plant stage grazed. Rabbit grazing had strong negative effects on recruitment and survival of C. sumatrensis throughout the experiment. Insect herbivory, however, had no effect on any life stage. Mollusc herbivory showed a significant interaction with interspecific competitors, reducing recruitment only where competition was experimentally reduced.