Plant Ecology

, Volume 192, Issue 1, pp 119–132 | Cite as

Melaleuca quinquenervia dominated forests in Florida: analyses of natural-enemy impacts on stand dynamics

  • Min B. RayamajhiEmail author
  • Thai K. Van
  • Paul D. Pratt
  • Ted D. Center
  • Phillip W. Tipping
Original Paper


Melaleuca quinquenervia (melaleuca) is a native of Australia but has become an invasive plant in Florida, USA. We conducted a long-term demographic study of melaleuca in three sections (central, transitional, and peripheral) of monoculture stands located in Florida, and quantified absolute density, diameter at breast height and basal area of trees by section at three sites. Additionally, we monitored the impacts of natural enemy (insects and fungi) on melaleuca populations which became apparent after 2001. Both absolute density and basal area, from before (1997–2001) and after noticeable natural-enemy impact (2002–2005), were compared. Prior to the natural-enemy impact, absolute density of melaleuca trees declined primarily due to self-thinning and associated losses of small trees, but diameter at breast height increased, as did the basal area. Later during the period when natural enemies prevailed, absolute density declined at a significantly greater rate across all sections but was highest at the periphery. The decrease in mean absolute density and basal area/ha of melaleuca during the natural-enemy impacted period coincided with the increased incidence of the populations of plant-feeding insects and fungi. The mean diameter at breast height continued to increase in all sections of the stands throughout the study period. An increasing trend in basal area prior to natural-enemy impact was reversed after increase in natural-enemy abundance and noticeable impact in all three sections of the stands. These findings lend support to a growing body of literature that implicates natural enemies as increasingly important density-independent regulators of M. quinquenervia populations.


Basal area Biological control Boreioglycaspis melaleucae Density Diameter at breast height Oxyops vitiosa Paratachardina lobata Puccinia psidii 



We acknowledge the technical assistance of Jorge Liedi and Reynaldo Moscat in USDA/ARS, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We are particularly indebted to Keitha Datillo, Christopher Grieshop, and many other AmeriCorps Volunteers from the program of the Student Conservation Association for assistance in establishing the permanent plots and subsequent data collection. We also acknowledge the constructive comments and criticism of the anonymous reviewers who helped improve overall quality of this presentation. Financial support for this project was provided by South Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management, and The USDA/ARS TAME Melaleuca project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min B. Rayamajhi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thai K. Van
    • 1
  • Paul D. Pratt
    • 1
  • Ted D. Center
    • 1
  • Phillip W. Tipping
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA – Agriculture Research Service, Invasive Plant Research LaboratoryFort LauderdaleUSA

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