The effects of temporally variable dispersal and landscape structure on invasive species spread


  • Corresponding Editor: T. J. Stohlgren.


Many invasive species are too widespread to realistically eradicate. For such species, a viable management strategy is to slow the rate of spread. However, to be effective, this will require detailed spread data and an understanding of the influence of environmental conditions and landscape structure on invasion rates. We used a time series of remotely sensed distribution maps and a spatial simulation model to study spread of the invasive Lepidium latifolium (perennial pepperweed) in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. L. latifolium is a noxious weed and exhibited rapid, explosive spread. Annual infested area and empirical dispersal kernels were derived from the remotely sensed distributions in order to assess the influence of weather conditions on spread and to parameterize the simulation model. Spread rates and dispersal distances were highest for nascent infestations and in years with wet springs. Simulations revealed that spread rates were more strongly influenced by the length of long-distance dispersal than by temporal variation in its likelihood. It is thus important to capture long-distance dispersal and the conditions that facilitate spread when collecting data to parameterize spread models. Additionally, management actions performed in high-spread years, targeting long-distance recruits, can effectively contain infestations. Corridors were relatively unimportant to spread rates; their effectiveness at enhancing rate of spread was limited by the species' dispersal ability and the time needed to travel through the corridor. In contrast, habitat abundance and shape surrounding the introduction site strongly influenced invasion dynamics. Satellite patches invading large areas of invasible habitat present especially high risk.