In western North America, the alien Elaeagnus angustifolia L. invades riparian habitats usually dominated by pioneer woody species such as Populus deltoides Marshall ssp. monilifera (Aiton) Eckenwalder. We conducted manipulative field experiments to compare the importance of physical disturbance and granivory for seedling establishment of these two species. We planted seeds of both species in disturbed and undisturbed study plots, and used exclosures, seed dish trials and live-trapping to assess the role of granivory. Seedling establishment of both species was increased by physical disturbance and seeds of both species were subject to granivory. However, the relative importance of these two factors differed between species. For P. deltoides, lack of physical disturbance prevented seedling establishment in uncleared subplots, but granivory did not prevent seedling establishment outside of exclosures. For E. angustifolia, granivory prevented seedling establishment outside of exclosures, but lack of physical disturbance did not prevent establishment in uncleared subplots. The lesser dependence on disturbance may enable E. angustifolia to invade areas characterized by low levels of fluvial disturbance, such as floodplains along regulated rivers, where P. deltoides recruitment does not occur. Populations of granivorous rodents may affect the susceptibility of riparian ecosystems to invasion by E. angustifolia.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Effects of physical disturbance and granivory on establishment of native and alien riparian trees in Colorado, USA|
|Series title||Diversity and Distributions|
|Contributing office(s)||Fort Collins Science Center|