Selecting replacements for invasive plants to support frugivores in highly modified sites: A case study focusing on Lantana camara

Authors

  • Carl R. Gosper,

  • Gabrielle Vivian-Smith


  • Carl Gosper and Gabrielle Vivian-Smith are a (former) postdoctoral fellow and principal scientist, respectively, at the CRC for Australian Weed Management (Alan Fletcher Research Station, Qld Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Water, PO Box 36, Sherwood, Qld 4075, Australia, Tel. (08) 93615761, Email: carl.gosper@yahoo.com.au). This work is part of a project aimed at improving the management of bird-dispersed weeds.

Abstract

Summary  Invasive plants are regarded as a major threat to biodiversity worldwide. Yet, in some cases, invasive plants now perform important ecological functions. For example, fleshy-fruited invasive plants provide food that supports indigenous frugivore populations. How can the disparate goals of conservation versus invasive weed control be managed? We suggest using the fruit characteristics of the invasive plant to select replacement indigenous plants that are functionally similar from the perspective of frugivores. These could provide replacement food resources at sites where plants with these characteristics are part of the goal plant community and where such plants would not otherwise regenerate. Replacement plants could also redirect seed dispersal processes to favour indigenous, rather than invasive, plant species. We investigated the utility of this approach by ranking all indigenous fleshy-fruited plant species from a region using a simple model that scored species based upon measures of fruit phenology, morphology, conspicuousness and accessibility relative to a target invasive species, Lantana (Lantana camara). The model successfully produced high scores for indigenous plant species that were used by more of the frugivores of Lantana than a random selection of plants, suggesting that this approach warrants further investigation.

Ancillary