Forest community response to invasive pathogens: the case of ash dieback in a British woodland

Needham, Jessica, Merow, Cory, Butt, Natalie, Malhi, Yadvinder, Marthews, Toby R., Morecroft, Michael and Mcmahon, Sean M. (2016) Forest community response to invasive pathogens: the case of ash dieback in a British woodland. Journal of Ecology, 104 2: 315-330. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12545

Author Needham, Jessica
Merow, Cory
Butt, Natalie
Malhi, Yadvinder
Marthews, Toby R.
Morecroft, Michael
Mcmahon, Sean M.
Title Forest community response to invasive pathogens: the case of ash dieback in a British woodland
Journal name Journal of Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2745
Publication date 2016-03-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1365-2745.12545
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 104
Issue 2
Start page 315
End page 330
Total pages 16
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
1. Large-scale mortality events in forests are increasing in frequency and intensity and can lead to both intermediate- and long-term changes in these systems. Specialist pests and pathogens are unique disturbances, as they commonly target individual species that are relatively prevalent in the community.

2. Understanding the consequences of pathogen-caused mortality requires using sometimes limited available data to create statistical models that can forecast future community states.

3. In the last two decades, ash dieback disease has swept through Europe causing widespread mortality of Fraxinus excelsior L. (European ash) across much of its distribution. In the UK, F. excelsior is an abundant and ecologically important species.

4. Using demographic data from an 18 ha plot in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, we built models that forecast the response of this forest plot to the loss of F. excelsior. We combine integral projection models and individual-based models to link models of growth, survival and fecundity to population dynamics. We demonstrate likely responses in Wytham by comparing projections under different levels of F. excelsior mortality. To extrapolate results to other systems, we test hypotheses regarding the role of abundance, spatial structure and demographic differences between species in determining community response to disease disturbance.

5. We show that the outcome of succession is determined largely by the differing demographic strategies and starting abundances of competing species. Spatial associations between species were shown to have little effect on community dynamics at the spatial scale of this plot.

6. Synthesis. Host-specific pests and pathogens are an increasingly important type of disturbance. We have developed a framework that makes use of forest inventory data to forecast changes in the population dynamics of remaining species and the consequences for community structure. We use our framework to predict how a typical British woodland will respond to ash dieback disease and show how vital rates, spatial structure and abundance impact the community response to the loss of a key species.
Keyword Bayesian inference
Disease disturbance
Forest demography
Individual-based models
Integral projection models
Inverse models
Plant population and community dynamics
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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