Modelling invasibility in endogenously oscillating tree populations: timing of invasion matters
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The timing of introduction of a new species into an ecosystem can be critical in determining the invasibility (i.e. the sensitivity to invasion) of a resident population. Here, we use an individual-based model to test how (1) the type of competition (symmetric versus asymmetric) and (2) seed masting influence the success of invasion by producing oscillatory dynamics in resident tree populations. We focus on a case where two species (one resident, one invader introduced at low density) do not differ in terms of competitive abilities. By varying the time of introduction of the invader, we show that oscillations in the resident population favour invasion, by creating “invasibility windows” during which resource is available for the invader due to transiently depressed resident population density. We discuss this result in the context of current knowledge on forest dynamics and invasions, emphasizing the importance of variability in population dynamics.