Stand dynamics and spatial patterns across varying sites in the invasive Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae)
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As with many invasive plant species, little is known of the population spatial patterns and stand dynamics of Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae)—a thicket-forming weed of worldwide significance in managed and conservation lands, including coastal and inland habitats of Eastern Australia. Consequently, we mapped and followed annually for 3 years the demographic fate of more than 2000 Lantana individuals at sites with four land-uses (hoop pine plantation, cattle farm, and two eucalyptus forests with occasional grazing and periodic burning regime, respectively) in Queensland, SE Australia. Populations exhibited plant size distributions that were continuous (i.e., of L or symmetric type) and unimodal, except the farm population where bimodality was observed. Newly established plants could be reproductive within one growing season at ~50 cm in height, especially where environmental resources were not limiting. Density had an appreciable effect on the weed’s reproductive capacity and growth, but not on survival. Established and newly recruited individuals were aggregated but the degree of aggregation decreased with plant size. However, in the sites that had experienced burning or mechanical clearing, Lantana seedling/juvenile recruitment assumed negative association (spatial displacement) in relation to established individuals. The findings of this study agree with the notion that ecological processes often leave characteristic spatial signatures, which if interpreted using appropriate hypotheses can help to ascertain factors responsible for the observed spatial patterns and stand dynamics.
KeywordsAustralia Biological-invasions Demography L. camara Plant size distribution Population dynamics Spatial pattern Weeds
We thank volunteers who over the years helped in collection of the field data, especially Amanda Dimmock, Matthew Shortus, Jayd McCarthy and Stephen Caruana. The research was funded by the Queensland government through the Land Protection Council and by the Australian Federal Government through its Weeds of National Significance (WONS) program for L. camara.
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