Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 727–741 | Cite as

Population Ecology of Hybrid Mesquite (Prosopis Species) in Western Australia: How Does it Differ from Native Range Invasions and What are the Implications for Impacts and Management?

  • Rieks D. van Klinken
  • Jodi Graham
  • Lloyd K. Flack


Beneficial exotic trees and shrubs have been widely spread throughout semiarid and arid regions of the world. These trees and shrubs can however cause severe negative impacts. Mesquite (Prosopis species), native to the New World, is one example which continues to be promoted despite causing serious impacts both in its native and introduced ranges. We describe the population structure of the largest population of fire-tolerant hybrid mesquite (P. velutina × P. glandulosa var. glandulosa × P. pallida) in Australia, which was intentionally established in the 1930s. We compare it with invasive populations within its native range, and consider the implications for managing exotic mesquite invasions. We found relatively high juvenile densities at all levels of canopy cover (<30% to 90–100%), and low mortality rates for both juveniles and adults (<2%/y), which suggests that populations are still in an early phase of invasion. Exotic populations differed from native range populations in being more dense (average 4,859 adults/ha), having a sizable sapling (seedling and juvenile) bank that can remain quiescent under canopy cover (average 10,914 seedlings and juveniles/ha), failing to act as nurse plants for native shrubs (<8 native shrubs/ha), and almost totally excluding the herbaceous (grass) layer (average 0.3% cover). Our results suggest that ecosystem impacts in the introduced range are likely to be even worse, and management even more difficult, than has already been reported for invasions within its native range. The lack of feasible means for managing highly invasive, broad-scale mesquite populations need to be addressed, and needs to be considered explicitly when promoting mesquite as a beneficial plant.


agroforestry arid Leguminoseae morphometrics native range sapling bank weed management 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rieks D. van Klinken
    • 1
  • Jodi Graham
    • 2
  • Lloyd K. Flack
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO EntomologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee Inc.KarrathaAustralia

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