INVESTIGADORES
RELVA Maria Andrea
artículos
Título:
Introduced deer reduce native plant cover and facilitate invasion of non-native tree species: evidence for invasional meltdown
Autor/es:
RELVA, M. A.; NUĂ‘EZ, M.; SIMBERLOFF, D.
Revista:
BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS
Editorial:
Springer
Referencias:
Lugar: Dordrecht; Año: 2010 vol. 12 p. 303 - 311
ISSN:
1387-3547
Resumen:
Invasive species are a major threat to native communities and ecosystems worldwide. One factor frequently invoked to explain the invasiveness of exotic species is their release in the new habitat from control by natural enemies (enemy-release hypothesis). More recently, interactions between exotic species have been proposed as a potential mechanism to facilitate invasions (invasional meltdown hypothesis). We studied the effects of introduced deer on native plant communities and exotic plant species on an island in Patagonia, Argentina using five 400 m2 exclosures paired with control areas in an Austrocedrus chilensis native forest stand. We hypothesized that introduced deer modify native understory composition and abundance and facilitate invasion of introduced tree species that have been widely planted in the region. After 4 years of deer exclusion, native Austrocedrus and exotic Pseudotsuga menziesii tree sapling abundances are not different inside and outside exclosures. However, deer browsing has strongly inhibited growth of native tree saplings (relative height growth is 77% lower with deer present), while exotic tree sapling growth is less affected (relative height growth is 3.3% lower). Deer significantly change abundance and composition of native understory plants. Cover of native plants in exclosures increased while cover in controls remained constant. Understory composition in exclosures after only 4 years differs greatly from that in controls, mainly owing to the abundance of highly-browsed native species. This study shows that introduced deer can aid the invasion of non-native tree species through negatively affecting native plant species.