How propagule size and environmental suitability jointly determine establishment success: a test using dung beetle introductions

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Abstract

Both the size of founding populations (propagule size) and environmental suitability are known to influence whether a species newly introduced to a location will establish a self-sustaining population. However, these two factors do not operate independently: it is the interaction between propagule size and environmental suitability that determines the probability an introduced population will establish. Here I use the example of dung beetle introductions to Australia to illustrate the importance of this interaction. I first describe equations that model establishment success jointly as a function of propagule size and environmental suitability. I then show how these equations provide insight into the different outcomes observed in two dung beetle species widely introduced to Australia. In one species, variation in propagule size had relatively little influence on establishment success due to large variation in environmental suitability, leading to an essentially bimodal outcome: sites were either very suitable for establishment and introductions succeeded, or sites were unsuitable and introductions failed regardless of propagule size. For the second species, there was much less variation among locations in environmental suitability, leading to propagule size having a strong influence on establishment success. These examples highlight how the interplay between environmental suitability and founding population size is central to determining the probability an introduced species will establish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-996
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

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