Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Wind speed predicts population dynamics of the eriophyid mite Floracarus perrepae on invasive old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) in a shade house colony.

Abstract

Lygodium microphyllum is one of the most noxious invasive plants in Florida, USA, smothering native vegetation in cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and Everglades tree islands and altering fire regimes. The eriophyid mite Floracarus perrepae was introduced from Australia to help control L. microphyllum infestations. While F. perrepae exhibits high population growth rates in its native range, its population dynamics in Florida are unknown, particularly the dynamics that occur within the leaf roll galls the mite induces on the margins of leaves. Here, we monitored a shade house colony of F. perrepae in south Florida for 2 years to identify seasonal patterns and potential climate drivers of within-gall mite density. Gall dissections of mite-infested colony plants were performed monthly. Mite density within galls exhibited two cycles per year: a strong cycle that boomed in spring and busted in summer, and a weak cycle that moderately increased mite density in fall and declined in winter. Climate variables, particularly those related to wind speed, were positively associated with higher mite density. Our study sheds light on the within-gall dynamics of F. perrepae and suggests that the highest within-gall mite densities occur in the spring and fall.