Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 2783–2797 | Cite as

Comparative demography of an exotic herbaceous annual among plant communities in invaded canyon grassland: inferences for habitat suitability and population spread

  • John M. WallaceEmail author
  • Timothy S. Prather
Original Paper


Studies of exotic plant demography among habitats within its novel range may elucidate mechanisms of competitive dominance at local scales and invasive spread at landscape scales. We compared demographic trends of Anthriscus caucalis, an exotic herbaceous annual, across several plant communities within canyon grasslands of the Inland Pacific Northwest, USA. Greater observed survival and fecundity vital rates, as well as less spatial or temporal variability of vital rates, were considered indicators of greater plant community susceptibility to A. caucalis invasion. In addition, we investigated the role of differing habitat suitability across plant community types on potential landscape-level dispersal processes. To accomplish this objective, population matrix models were utilized to simulate stochastic transient (5 years) population growth rates (log λt) of A. caucalis under different net dispersal rate scenarios among the selected plant communities. We observed aboveground demography for 4 years within two bunchgrass community types and two shrub community types within a study area where livestock grazing occurred and within another study area that was not subjected to livestock grazing. Our results indicated that juvenile survival did not differ among communities, but the spatial variance of juvenile survival was significantly lower in shrub communities. Mean fecundity was significantly higher in high shrub (Celtis reticulata) communities compared to others, whereas spatial and temporal variances were significantly lower in high shrub communities compared to others. Within high shrub communities, total seed production was lower at the grazed site, which likely results from frequent livestock trampling within these refuge habitats. Under assumptions of no net seed dispersal, two of four bunchgrass sites maintained positive growth rates (log λt > 0; 95 % CI) whereas growth rates were positive in each shrub community. Notably, high shrub communities maintained positive growth rates under assumptions of 60 % net seed dispersal, while population growth rates in other communities declined with increasing net seed dispersal. In summary, our study suggests that high shrub communities are comparatively greater suitable habitat for A. caucalis growth and development and may act as source populations for invasive spread at a landscape scale.


Anthriscus caucalis Bur chervil Comparative demography Landscape heterogeneity Matrix model Transient growth rate Stochastic demography 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological SciencesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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