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Biological Invasions


To better understand the competitive processes involved in invasion by congeners, we examine coexistence patterns of two invasive species, Carduus nutans and C. acanthoides, at three spatial scales. A roadside survey of 5 × 5 km blocks in a previously identified overlap zone provided information about the regional scale. At smaller scales, we surveyed four fields of natural co-occurrence, quantifying the spatial patterns at the field scale by randomly placed 1 × 1 m quadrats and at the smallest scale by detailing plant position within the quadrats. The patterns observed are strikingly different at the different scales. At the regional scale, there is positive local autocorrelation in both species but negative cross-correlation between them, consistent with previous surveys. However, at the field scale, there is positive local autocorrelation in both species, and we generally see a positive association between the two species. At the plot scale, when excluding areas of joint absence, there is again a negative association between the two species. This pattern can also be seen at the field scale when excluding plots with joint absence. These results suggest that, at the scale of a field, the strongest factor determining location is aggregation in favorable habitats, which is a stronger force than the competition-induced segregation evidenced at small scales. Lottery competition for spatially aggregated safe sites thus appears to drive the patterns observed at the field scale, while the regional scale pattern may be a result of restricted natural dispersal and invasion history.


This research was partially supported by USDA-CSREES (Biology of Weedy and Invasive Plants) NRI grant #2002-35320-1228 to KS and a NASA Space Grant Fellowship to ER.