Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 325–335 | Cite as

Using assembly rules to measure the resilience of riparian plant communities to beaver invasion in subantarctic forests

  • Petra K. Wallem
  • Christopher B. Anderson
  • Guillermo Martínez-Pastur
  • María Vanessa Lencinas
Original Paper


The present study measures the resilience of riparian herbaceous communities to beaver invasion in subantarctic forests of southern Chile and Argentina. Divergence in community composition and spatial structure was measured comparing beaver-disturbed and undisturbed vegetation assemblages along a sequence of beaver meadow ages; the former by performing a Principal Component Analysis and the later by estimating a co-occurrence index (C-score). Community composition and spatial structure of vegetation showed an increasingly divergent trend from undisturbed sites to older beaver meadows. These results indicated that understory vegetation in deciduous subantarctic forests was not resilient to beaver invasion. Using “assembly rules” as a conceptual framework, we propose a resilience index of host communities to disturbances caused by herbivore invaders that also can be used for subsequent restoration programs to monitor the effectiveness of intervention and mitigation efforts.


Tierra del Fuego Ecosystem engineer Environmental impact Invasive herbivore Assembly rules Temperate forests 



We especially thank the comments and discussions with Sergio Estay, who provided important insight for this article. Valuable comments were provided by two anonymous reviewers and the guest editorial board of this spetial edition (Joe Bailey, Martín Núñez and Jennifer Schweitzer). We acknowledge the following funding sources that made this work possible: National Science Foundation Grant DEB-0407875 and the first Chilean Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Network, coordinated by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (ICM P05-002, PFB-023, [CBA]; a Thesis Support Project (CONICYT 2405-0122) and Programs 2 and 4 from the Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity (FONDAP 1501-0001) [PW]; and the Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET) and the Argentine National Parks Administration [GMP and MVL].


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra K. Wallem
    • 1
  • Christopher B. Anderson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guillermo Martínez-Pastur
    • 4
  • María Vanessa Lencinas
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity (CASEB)Pontificia Universidad CatólicaSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Millennium Institute of Ecology and BiodiversitySantiagoChile
  3. 3.Omora Ethnobotanical ParkUniversity of MagallanesPuerto WilliamsChile
  4. 4.Forest Resources LaboratoryCentro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET)Ushuaia, Tierra del FuegoArgentina

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