Casuarina invasions : a multi-scale assessment of an important tree genus

Potgieter, Luke (2014-04)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Understanding the processes that drive the invasion of non-native species is often essential for effective management. This thesis focuses on Casuarina spp. – an economically and ecologically important tree genus with taxa that have been widely disseminated by humans. I explore the effects certain taxa can have on community dynamics in recipient environments, investigate the factors that mediate invasion of Casuarina species, and from this aim to develop recommendations for managing the group. First, I assessed the global introduction history, invasion ecology and the evolution of management approaches of Casuarina. Ten of the 14 species in the genus have been introduced outside their native ranges to over 150 countries, but only three species are recorded as naturalized or invasive. As with other groups there is a correlation between native range size and invasiveness – the three invasive species also have the largest introduced ranges. Propagule pressure explains much more of the variance in observed invasiveness between Casuarina taxa than any known combination of life-history traits. Large-scale plantings of casuarinas in some climatically suitable areas have not yet resulted in large-scale invasions; there is a substantial global Casuarina invasion debt. Experiences in Florida and the Mascarene Islands highlight that casuarinas have the potential to transform ecosystems with significant control costs. Despite modest progress with managing invasions in some areas, substantial problems remain. As with most other invasive tree taxa, complex conflicts of interest are particularly challenging. Second, I looked at mechanisms underlying naturalization and assessed invasion risk at a regional scale. Here, I examined Casuarina cunninghamiana invasions in the south-western Cape of South Africa – the part of the country with the largest contiguous area climatically similar to the native range of the species. Propagule pressure is a key driver of naturalization of C. cunninghamiana populations in climatically suitable areas. The species also naturalizes in regions with suboptimal bioclimatic conditions, but then only very near (<10 m) planted trees. Risk models indicate that C. cunninghamiana is likely to spread across a greater region of the Western Cape than it currently occupies. Naturalized populations of C. cunninghamiana are young and expanding. The capacity of the species to resprout and attain reproductive maturity at an early age suggests that this species could become a widespread and damaging invader in South Africa. We conclude with some recommendations for management, and argue that if particular steps are taken (e.g. the immediate removal of all female plants from proximity to dams and water-courses; all future sales and plantings to be restricted to male plants) then it might be possible to safely utilise the species in future. Third, I examined the invasion dynamics of a single Casuarina species at the landscape scale. I explored how interactions between disturbance and invasion govern successional trajectories, using the remarkable invasion of C. equisetifolia on the volcanic island of Réunion. Invasive populations of C. equisetifolia have increased substantially in extent over 40 years. Lava flows have facilitated the spread of C. equisetifolia and invasion of this species has radically changed successional trajectories, increasing the rate of succession sevenfold. This case mirrors work done on Morella faya and Falcataria moluccana on Hawa'ii, which shows the extent to which invasive species can alter ecosystem function and benefit from natural disturbances generated by volcanic lava flows. The continued spread of C. equisetifolia poses a major threat to the small area of remaining native lowland rainforests on Réunion which cover < 2 % of their original extent. The studies in this thesis have uncovered patterns, processes and invasion risks for invasive trees that are not well represented in the literature. Some insights derived from well-studied tree genera, such as Acacia and Pinus, seem to apply fairly well to tree invasions in general. However, special ecological features of Casuarina species and the ways they are used by humans call for unique considerations when piecing together changing global distributions and creating effective strategies for management.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ‘n Deeglike begrip van die prosesse wat die indringing van uitheemse spesies fasiliteer is noodsaaklik vir effektiewe besturing. Hierdie tesis fokus op Casuarine spp. – ‘n ekonomiese en ekologiese belangrike boom genus, met menigte spesies binne hierdie genus wyd verspreid deur mense. Ek ondersoek die effekte wat sekere taksa kan hê op die gemeenskap dinamika in die ontvanger omgewing, sowel as die faktore wat Casuarina indringing bemiddel, en deur hierdie doelwitte beoog ek om aanbevelings te maak aangaande die effektiewe bestuur van hierdie groep. Eerstens evalueer ek die invoerings geskiedenis van die genus wêreldwyd, die indringer ekologie en ook die evolusie van bestuurs benaderinge ten opsigte van Casuarina. Tien van die 14 spesies binne hierdie genus is ingevoer na meer as 150 verkillende lande buite hul inheemse streek, maar slegs drie van hierdie spesies word beskou as genaturaliseerd of indringers. Soos met ander groepe is daar ‘n korrelasie tussen inheemse streeks-grote en indringerheid – die drie indringer spesie het ook die grootste ingevoerde streke. Propaguul druk verduidelik die meerderheid van die variasie in die waargeneme indringer Casuarina taksa as enige ander kombinasie van lewens geskiendenis eienskappe. Groot skaalse plantasies van casaurina taksa in sommige klimaat geskikste areas het nog nie na groot skaalse indringing gelei nie; daar is wêreldwyd ‘n aansienlike Casuarina indringer skuld. Ervarings in Florida en die Mascarene Eilande beklemtoon dat casuarinas die potensiaal het om ekosisteme te transformeer met geweldige beheer omkostes. Ten spyte van redelike vordering aangaande die besturing van indringers in sekere areas, is daar steeds aansienlike probleme. Soos met meeste ander indringer boom taksa, is die botsing van belange veral uitdagend. Tweedens, het ek die meganismes van die naturalisasie bemiddel as ook indrigner risiko op die plaaslike skaal ondersoek. In hierdie deel het ek Casuarina cunninghamiana indringers in die Suid-Wes Kaap van Suid-Afrika ondersoek – die deel van die land met die grootste aangrensende area wat ‘n ooreenstemmend klimaat het met die inheemse areas van die spesie. Propaguul druk is ‘n belangrike drywer vir die naturalisasie van C. cunninghamiana populasies in areas met ‘n geskikte klimaat. Hierdie spesie het ook genaturaliseer in areas met suboptimale klimaats kondisies, maar slegs baie naby (<10m) aan plantasies. Risiko modelle dui aan dat C. cunninghamiana die potensiaal het om te versprei na ander dele van die Wes-Kaap waar dit huidiglik afwesig is. Natuurlike populasies van C. cunninghamiana is jonk en in die proses van uitbreiding. Die kapasiteit van die spesie om te hergrooi en voortplantings volwassenheid op n vroeë ouderdom te beriek stel voor dat hierdie spesie ‘n wyd verspreide en skadelike indringer kan word. Ons sluit af met aanbevelings vir effektiewe bestuur en stel voor dat indien sekere stappe geneem word (bv. ontmiddelike verwydering van die vroulike plante naby damme en water areas; alle verdere verkope beperk word tot manklike plante), dit moontlik sal wees om hierdie spesie op ‘n omgewings-veilige manier te gebruik. Derdens het ek die indringing dinamika van ‘n enkele Casuarina spesie on landskap skaal ondersoek. Ek het verken hoe interaksies tussen versteurings en indringing plantegroei prosesse dryf, deur gebruik te maak van die merkwaardige indringing van C. equisetifolia op die vulkaniese eiland van Reunion. Indringer populasies van C. equisetifolia het aansienlik vermeerder in die afgelope 40 jaar. Lava vloei het die verspreiding van C. equisetifolia gefasiliteer en indringing van hierdie spesie het plantegroei prosesse radikaal verander, deur die tempo van opvolging sewevoudig te verhoog. Hierdie studie weerspieël werk wat op Morella faya en Falcataria moluccana in Hawa’ii gedoen is en toon tot watter mate indringer spesies ekosisteem funksies kan verander en voordeel kan trek uit natuurlike versteurings wat gegenereer word deur vulkansiese lava vloei. Die voortgesette verspreiding van C. equisetifolia hou ‘n groot bedreiging in vir oorblywende inheemse laeveld reënwoude op Reunion wat tans < 2% van hul oorspronlike area dek. Die studies in hierdie tesis het patrone, prosesse en indringer risikos vir indringer bome ontdek wat nie goed in die literatuur verteenwoodig word nie. Sommige insigte wat deur goed bestudeerde boom genera, soos Acacia en Pinus, ontdek is, blyk om redelik goed van toepassing te wees op boom indringers in geheel. Alhoewel, sekere ekologiese funksies van Casuarina spesies en die manier wat hulle deur mense gebruik word, vra vir unieke oorwegings aangaande hul wêreldwye verspreiding en effektiewe beheer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86203
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