Factors Influencing the Local Scale Colonisation and Change in Density of a Widespread Invasive Plant Species, Lantana Camara, in South India

Bharath Sundaram, Ankila J. Hiremath, Jagdish Krishnaswamy | 2015 


Identifying factors that underlie invasive species colonisation and change in density could provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of biological invasions and for invasive species management. We examined a suite of factors potentially influencing the landscape-level invasion of Lantana camara L., one of the most ubiquitous invasive species in South Asia. These factors included disturbance factors like forest fires, historical habitat modification, and edge effects, in addition to factors like propagule pressure and habitat suitability. We examined the relative importance of these factors on the colonisation and change in density of L. camara in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. We used extensive (1997–2008) datasets tracking the presence and abundance of L. camara and combined these with corresponding data on disturbances, propagule pressure, and habitat suitability. We used an information-theoretic model selection approach to determine the relative importance of each factor on the colonisation and change in density of L. camara. Colonisation was mainly a function of proximity to already established populations (i.e. propagule pressure), whereas increase in L. camara density appeared to be constrained by high fire frequency. Research and management efforts need to recognize the multi-dimensional nature of mechanisms underlying L. camara’s success during different invasion phases when strategizing interventions to mitigate its effects.