ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION

The Dynamics of Invasions

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Science  04 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5749, pp. 747
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5749.747a

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the American northwest provided ecologists with 60 square km of primary successional habitat on which to study the dynamics of recolonization. Fagan et al. examine the role of interactions between species in determining the course of colonization and invasion on the fresh pumice slopes of the volcano. The spatial pattern of colonization by the prairie lupin, Lupinus lepidus, is governed by herbivore pressure. The plants are eaten by the leaf-tying larvae (caterpillars) of several lepidopteran species, and there is evidence for thresholds in the parameter ranges of plant spatial extent and timing of initial colonization that predict whether the herbivores can halt the invasion. As well as providing fresh insight into the dynamics of successional systems, these findings are relevant to the control of invasive plants because they suggest the possibility of developing protocols for the most effective timing and spatial deployment of herbivorous control agents. — AMS

Am. Nat., in press.

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