Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Spatio-environmental analysis of Vespula germanica nest records explains slow invasion in South Africa.

Abstract

Investigating the distributions of invasive species in marginal habitats can give clues to the factors constraining invasive spread. Vespula germanica is the most widely distributed of all the invasive Vespids, which in the Southern Hemisphere typically have large extensive invasive populations. In contrast, the invasion into South Africa has been slow and is still confined to a small geographic area. Here we analyse the distribution of all recent nest records in South Africa (n = 405). The distance to main rivers, mean annual rainfall, summer normalised difference moisture index (NDMI) values, and mean annual temperatures (average, minimum, maximum, and summer maximum temperature) was measured for every nest. We find that value ranges of these variables are different between the value ranges recorded for nests, the general distribution area of the wasp, and the area of absence. Optimised Hot Spot Analysis was used to quantify spatial structure in the measured climatic variables. Generally, factors related to moisture stress set the environmental limits of V. germanica's landscape distribution. Due to the strong preference of nesting sites close to river courses, for higher rainfall conditions, medium to medium-high NDMI values, and lower mean annual temperatures, it is unlikely that V. germanica will be able to spread uniformly where it is currently found in South Africa.