Monday, 30 August 2010

August review for F1000

Optimal management strategies to control local population growth or population spread may not be the same. Shea K, Jongejans E, Skarpaas O, Kelly D, Sheppard AW Ecol Appl 2010 Jun 20(4):1148-61

Our Review
Mark Lonsdale: Faculty of 1000 Biology, 16 Aug 2010
Copyright F1000
This paper provides a good example of how a model for population processes can be used to inform management decisions at a regional scale for an invasive plant, Carduus nutans. Mechanistic approaches in both population dynamics and dispersal simulation are combined to good effect in this study. Modellers are increasingly using such methods in spatial ecology to achieve a better understanding of drivers that can lead to important management strategy recommendations, as demonstrated here.
The authors incorporate lifecycle processes in a matrix mode of local demography with a mechanistic dispersal model (termed a 'vital-rate' approach) and show that certain processes have divergent effects on either spread or growth of the population. Managers should therefore consider their aims (e.g. whether to control population growth or spread) when trying to identify appropriate management strategies. Management strategies may also need to vary between regions (both native and invaded) as the life cycle and 'vital-rates' of the invasive vary with region. The mechanistic approach of Shea et al. confirms that the reduction of micro-site availability is beneficial in reducing both the rate of population growth and spread, as it would limit key processes of germination and establishment. They also find with their model that differing methods of biocontrol will have differing impacts on either population growth or spread, thus informing management strategies. Biocontrol can be expensive and it will be useful to make explicit early decisions about what kind of biocontrol agents to search for.

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