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Separating sources of density-dependent and density-independent establishment limitation in invading species

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Spotswood Erica N. , Mariotte Pierre, Farrer Emily C., Nichols Liana, Suding Katharine N.,
Project Exploring threshold dynamics in noxious plant invasion of Californian rangelands
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Ecology
Title of proceedings Journal of Ecology
DOI 10.1111/1365-2745.12686


1. Successful colonization by invasive species depends on both the ability to disperse seeds to a site and an ability to establish once seeds have arrived. While seed and establishment limitation are known to jointly influence colonization, decomposing establishment limitation into density-dependent and density-independent components has remained challenging. 2. Here, we couple theoretical models of recruitment with a multispecies invasion experiment conducted within a natural gradient of soil moisture and productivity to assess how variation in establishment limitation shapes outcomes for invasion. 3. Recruitment was affected by both density-dependent and density-independent sources of establishment limitation in three of four species. Soil moisture stress and productivity both increased density-independent mortality in one species, whereas density-dependent mortality increased in locations with favourable soil moisture. 4. Synthesis. Successful establishment of invading species can be limited by both density-dependent and density-independent mechanisms. In particular, the strength of density-independent limitation may depend on natural gradients in abiotic factors. The varying strengths of establishment limitation suggest that patterns of invasion are likely to be uneven both in space and in time. Understanding how intraspecific competitive constraints and density-independent limitation vary with abiotic gradients can assist with predicting when invasions are likely to occur, information that can be harnessed in the development of better methods for control.