Biotic resistance to Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera in Tasmania
Scurr, GF and Kirkpatrick, JB and Daniels, G and McQuillan, PB, Biotic resistance to Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera in Tasmania, Austral Ecology, 33, (8) pp. 941-950. ISSN 1442-9985 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Boneseed, Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera (Asteraceae) is concentrated in and near cities and towns on the north and east coasts of Tasmania. Its absence from intervening rural and bushland areas cannot be attributed to environmental conditions or a lack of time for dispersal from introduction points. The hypothesis tested in the present paper is that the range of boneseed in Tasmania is limited by biotic resistance through herbivory. Cafeteria experiments and field observations showed that sheep (Ovis aries), cattle (Bos taurus), Tasmanian pademelons (Thylogale billardierii), Bennett's wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus), garden weevils (Phlyctinus callosus) and native invertebrates all consumed boneseed, while common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) did not. A boneseed population subjected to sheep grazing for 168 days suffered high mortality, while an adjacent ungrazed population survived intact. A replicated exclosure experiment showed that 75 days of grazing by cattle reduced the size of boneseed plants. Observations of a population subject to Bennett's wallaby and Tasmanian pademelon grazing over 1 year and 2 months showed consistently high leaf damage to foliage within pademelon reach and a decline in population, with high mortality rates in the driest and coldest times. Leaf loss attributable to invertebrates did not prevent a nearby population without wallabies from growing. The distributions of the taxa were consistent with biotic resistance, with those demonstrating no severe effect on boneseed individuals widespread, while those with evidence of severe effects more common in rural areas than in urban areas. Boneseed seemed unlikely to survive for very long at normal stocking levels. Macropod grazing, particularly that of T. billardierii, may also inhibit the invasion of boneseed. Thus, the recent introduction of foxes to Tasmania may not only cause the extinction of species such as T. billardierii, but also may cause an expansion of the range of boneseed.