Simulating the effects of different disturbance regimes on Cortaderia selloana invasion

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Disturbances favour plant invasions because they provide a pulse of resources for seedling establishment and growth. However, little attention has been paid to the importance of the different disturbance regimes in the extent of invasion. In this paper we asked to what extent invasion depends on spatial and temporal patterns of disturbance. By using the spatially explicit model Fateland, we simulated how Cortaderia selloana, a large-wind dispersed perennial grass invading Mediterranean grasslands, responds to different medium-term (up to 55 years) disturbance regimes. The different scenarios combine disturbance frequency, extent of disturbance and temporal and spatial disturbance variability, and they roughly mimic real situations of habitat management and disturbances in cultural landscapes. The model predicted that the proportion of invaded area would increase with disturbance frequency. The extent of the disturbance overcame the importance of frequency. Aggregated disturbances randomly distributed in space had a more positive effect on invasion than scattered disturbances at repeatedly fixed locations. Whether the disturbances regularly occurred in time or were irregularly distributed did not influence the percentage of invaded landscape. Our simulation analysis unambiguously supports the hypothesis that disturbances are essential for the persistence and expansion of Cortaderia sellona. The high amount of seed rain from a few individuals (e.g., gardens) make this species very sensitive to landscape changes produced by different disturbance patterns (e.g., land abandonment, habitat management or rubbish dumping). Our results can contribute to redirect land management options. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-135
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • Alien plants
  • Cortaderia
  • Disturbance patterns
  • Disturbance scenarios
  • Exotic plant
  • Invasibility
  • Invasive plants
  • Model
  • Pampas grass


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