Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Longitude, forest fragmentation, and plant size influence Cycas micronesica mortality following island insect invasions.

Abstract

Island invasions may cause severe changes in biodiversity, but the factors that influence these changes are not well understood. We established 120 plots in Cycas micronesica habitats throughout Guam in 2005 following the invasion of the armored scale Aulacaspis yasumatsui, then observed plant mortality through 2020. We used transects in Yap as benchmarks, as the Yap C. micronesica population is not threatened. The initial Guam plots contained about 1600 seedlings, 1160 juveniles, and 1240 mature plants per ha. Seedling mortality was 100% by 2006, juvenile mortality was 100% by 2014, and the 2020 census revealed 96% mortality of the plant population. Localities in western Guam and isolated forest fragments exhibited the greatest mortality, with 100% extirpation from two fragmented western localities. The juvenile and mature trees in Yap were unchanged from 2010 to 2018, but the seedling count was heterogeneous among the years. Constrained recruitment from seedlings to juveniles explained these dynamics. Yap transects contained about 6120 seedlings, 3400 juveniles, and 1250 mature plants per ha. Biological control of the invasive insects remains the acute conservation action needed for the Guam population. Lessons learned may be useful in other regions where invasions of non-native pests threaten biodiversity.