, Volume 148, Issue 1–2, pp 97–109 | Cite as

The importance of population growth, seed dispersal and habitat suitability in determining plant invasiveness

  • David A. Bass
  • Neville D. Crossman
  • Susan L. Lawrie
  • Mark R. Lethbridge


This paper examines the roles of plant demography, seed dispersal ecology and habitat suitability in influencing invasiveness of horticulturally important species. Section one investigates the relative invasiveness of two woody species, Crataegus monogyna and Prunus mahaleb, and concentrates on differences in demographic and dispersal traits. The second section delineates the invasion of two Asparagus spp. and concentrates on differences in seed dispersal ecology. Section three reports the use of a geographical information system analysis to determine whether habitat suitability, seed dispersal or land management is more important in determining threat of invasion by adventive Olea europaea. C. monogyma, P. mahaleb are closely related with similar habits and overlapping home ranges in Europe. Crataegus monogyna is very invasive in northern New South Wales, having spread rapidly and conspicuously throughout the region and elsewhere in southern Australia at rates of 80–120 m yr−1. Prunus mahaleb is far less invasive, being restricted to a small population, which is expanding at 20 m yr−1. Demographic analysis showed that potential growth rates of P. mahaleb (1.713–1.490) are greater than those for C. monogyna (1.138–1.103). Assessment of the seed dispersal ecology of both species revealed that C. monogyna had seeds dispersed by one bird and three mammals over many kilometers. P. mahaleb had seeds dispersed by six birds and four mammals over distances generally < 100 m. The role of humans in introducing both species and the characteristics of seed dispersal are more influential than demography in determining invasiveness. The more invasive Asparagus asparagoides has smaller fruit with a bicoloured display up to 1.5 m above ground. Less invasive A. declinatus has larger, translucent white fruit displayed at heights < 0.5 m above ground. The role of humans has also been important in shaping the course of invasion. Sensitivity analysis confirms that land management practices, which affect Olea europaea seedling establishment and survival, are most important at a landscape scale in determining invasiveness. The main factors determining the difference in invasiveness relate directly to the changing nature of human management of each species and the ecological interactions between the plants and the invaded environment. This research has implications for the prediction and management of biological invasions; emphasizing the importance of seed dispersal and human activities in determining the course of invasions: both of which cannot be readily predicted.

Key Words

geographic information systems GIS habitat suitability invasiveness population growth seed dispersal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Bass
    • 1
  • Neville D. Crossman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan L. Lawrie
    • 1
  • Mark R. Lethbridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Weeds Group, School of Geography, Population and Environmental ManagementFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Policy and Economic Research UnitCSIRO Land and WaterGlen OsmondAustralia

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