Assessing Population Increase as a Possible Outcome to Management of Invasive Species
Some efforts to reduce invasive populations have paradoxically led to population increases. This phenomenon, referred to as overcompensation, occurs when reduced intraspecific pressures increase juvenile survival or maturation rates, leading to increased population size. Overcompensation in response to eradication efforts could derail management efforts, so it would be beneficial to evaluate the likelihood of overcompensation prior to removal. We conducted a series of experiments to examine the potential for overcompensation of a non-native population of the European green crab, Carcinus maenas, which was being removed in Bodega Harbor, California. First, we examined the impact of adults on juvenile survival by measuring adult cannibalism on juveniles in the presence and absence of alternative prey, and the survival of tethered juveniles at varying adult densities. Second, we examined how adult presence affected juvenile short-term foraging and growth rates. Although adult presence reduced juvenile short-term foraging, we detected only minimal cannibalism and found no evidence that adults greatly reduce juvenile growth or survivorship. These results suggest that overcompensation is not likely to occur in this population in response to removal. We assessed this prediction using pre- and post-removal surveys of juvenile recruitment in Bodega Harbor compared to nearby populations, testing for evidence of overcompensation. Relative juvenile abundance did not statistically increase in removal compared to reference populations, consistent with our conclusion from the experiments. This experimental approach which focuses on an organism’s population biology provides a tool to assess capacity for assessing the capacity for overcompensation in management strategies for invasive species.
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Turner, B. C., de Rivera, C. E., Grosholz, E. D., & Ruiz, G. M. (2016). Assessing population increase as a possible outcome to management of invasive species. Biological invasions, 18(2), 533-548.