Community composition influences the population growth and ecological impact of invasive species in response to climate change

Abstract

Predicting long-term impacts of introduced species is challenging, since stressors related to global change can influence species–community interactions by affecting both demographic rates of invasive species and the structure of the invaded ecosystems. Invasive species can alter ecosystem structure over time, further complicating interactions between invasive species and invaded communities in response to additional stressors. Few studies have considered how cumulative impacts of species invasion and global change on the structure of invaded ecosystems may influence persistence and population growth of introduced species. Here, we present an empirically based population model for an invasive epiphytic bryozoan that can dramatically alter the structure of its invaded kelp bed ecosystems. We use this model to predict the response of invasive species to climate change and associated changes in the invaded community. Population growth of the bryozoan increased under near-future projections of increasing ocean temperature; however, the magnitude of population growth depended on the community composition of invaded kelp beds. Our results suggest that, in some cases, indirect effects of climate change mediated through changes to the structure of the invaded habitat can modulate direct effects of climate change on invasive species, with consequences for their long-term ecological impact. Our findings have important implications for management of invasive species, as modifying invaded habitats at local to regional scales may be more logistically feasible than addressing stressors related to global climate change.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Lindley, R. E. Scheibling, J. O’Brien, C. Feehan, K. Sorochan, K. Filbee-Dexter, E. Simonson, and K. Desilets for assistance with field work. R. E. Scheibling and two anonymous reviewers provided comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery grant to A.M, and a Dalhousie Faculty of Graduate Studies scholarship, Nova Scotia Scholarship, NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship, and Dalhousie Killam Scholarship to D.D.

Funding

This study was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discover grant (NSERC RGPIN-2016-04,878) to AM.

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DD collected and analysed field data, developed the study design and matrix population model, analysed model output, and wrote the manuscript. AM supervised the study design and analysis and edited the manuscript, KF supervised the development of the matrix population model and analysis of model output and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Danielle Denley.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All applicable national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed in accordance with the recommendations of the Canadian Council on Animal Care and the policies of Dalhousie University.

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Communicated by Daniel C. Reed.

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Denley, D., Metaxas, A. & Fennel, K. Community composition influences the population growth and ecological impact of invasive species in response to climate change. Oecologia 189, 537–548 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-018-04334-4

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Keywords

  • Population dynamics
  • Population model
  • Kelp beds
  • Bryozoan
  • Temperature