Modelling the impacts of an invasive species across landscapes: A step-wise approach

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Abstract

We estimate the extent of ecological impacts of the invasive Asian paper wasp across different landscapes in New Zealand. We used: (i) a baseline distribution layer (modelled viaMaxEnt); (ii) Asian paper wasp nest density (from >460 field plots, related to their preferences for specific land cover categories); and (iii) and their foraging intensity (rates of foraging success, and the time available to forage on a seasonal basis). Using geographic information systems this information is combined and modelled across different landscapes in New Zealand in a step-wise selection process. The highest densities of Asian paper wasps were in herbaceous saline vegetation, followed closely by built-up areas, and then scrub and shrubland. Nest densities of 34 per ha, and occupancy rates of 0.27 were recorded for herbaceous saline vegetation habitats. However, the extent of impacts of the Asian paper wasp remains relatively restricted because of narrow climate tolerances and spatial restriction of preferred habitats. A step-wise process based on geographic information systems and species distribution models, in combination with factors such as distribution, density, and predation, create a useful tool that allows the extent of impacts of invasive species to be assessed across large spatial scales. These models will be useful for conservation managers as they provide easy visual interpretation of results, and can help prioritise where direct conservation action or control of the invader are required. © 2014 Ward and Morgan.

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Ward, D., & Morgan, F. (2014). Modelling the impacts of an invasive species across landscapes: A step-wise approach. PeerJ, 2014(1). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.435

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