Allee effects and population regulation: a test for biotic resistance against an invasive leafroller by resident parasitoids.
Resident natural enemies can impact invasive species by causing Allee effects, leading to a reduction in establishment success of small founder populations, or by regulating or merely suppressing the abundance of established populations. Epiphyas postvittana, the Light Brown Apple Moth, an invasive leafroller in California, has been found to be attacked by a large assemblage of resident parasitoids that cause relatively high rates of parasitism. Over a 4-year period, we measured the abundance and per capita growth rates of four E. postvittana populations in California and determined parasitism rates. We found that at two of the sites, parasitism caused a component Allee effect, a reduction in individual survivorship at lower E. postvittana population densities, although it did not translate into a demographic Allee effect, an impact on per capita population growth rates at low densities. Instead, E. postvittana populations at all four sites exhibited strong compensatory density feedback throughout the entire range of densities observed at each site. As we found no evidence for a negative relationship between per capita population growth rates and parasitism rates, we concluded that resident parasitoids were unable to regulate E. postvittana populations in California. Despite a lack of evidence for regulation or a demographic Allee effect, the impact of resident parasitoids on E. postvittana populations is substantial and demonstrates significant biotic resistance against this new invader.