Journal Article

Integrating multiple disturbance aspects: management of an invasive thistle, <i>Carduus nutans</i>

Rui Zhang and Katriona Shea

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 7, pages 1395-1401
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr312
Integrating multiple disturbance aspects: management of an invasive thistle, Carduus nutans

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Disturbances occur in most ecological systems, and play an important role in biological invasions. We delimit five key disturbance aspects: intensity, frequency, timing, duration and extent. Few studies address more than one of these aspects, yet interactions and interdependence between aspects may lead to complex outcomes.

Methods

In a two-cohort experimental study, we examined how multiple aspects (intensity, frequency and timing) of a mowing disturbance regime affect the survival, phenology, growth and reproduction of an invasive thistle Carduus nutans (musk thistle).

Key Results

Our results show that high intensity and late timing strongly delay flowering phenology and reduce plant survival, capitulum production and plant height. A significant interaction between intensity and timing further magnifies the main effects. Unexpectedly, high frequency alone did not effectively reduce reproduction. However, a study examining only frequency and intensity, and not timing, would have erroneously attributed the importance of timing to frequency.

Conclusions

We used management of an invasive species as an example to demonstrate the importance of a multiple-aspect disturbance framework. Failure to consider possible interactions, and the inherent interdependence of certain aspects, could result in misinterpretation and inappropriate management efforts. This framework can be broadly applied to improve our understanding of disturbance effects on individual responses, population dynamics and community composition.

Keywords: Carduus nutans; thistle; disturbance timing; frequency; intensity; invasive species; mowing; population biology

Journal Article.  4299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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