Biological control as an invasion process: Disturbance and propagule pressure affect the invasion success of Lythrum salicaria biological control agents

Alice Yeates, Shon S. Schooler, Ralph Garono, Yvonne M. Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Understanding the mechanisms behind the successful colonization and establishment of introduced species is important for both preventing the invasion of unwanted species and improving release programs for biological control agents. However, it is often not possible to determine important introduction details, such as date, number of organisms, and introduction location when examining factors affecting invasion success. Here we use biological control introduction data to assess the role of propagule pressure, disturbance, and residence time on invasion success of four herbivorous insect species introduced for the control of the invasive wetland plant, Lythrum salicaria, in the Columbia River Estuary. Two sets of field surveys determined persistence at prior release sites, colonization of new sites, and abundance within colonized sites. We quantified propagule pressure in four ways to examine the effect of different measurements. These included three measurements of introduction size (proximity to introduction site, introduction size at a local scale, and introduction size at a regional scale) and one measure of introduction number (number of introduction events in a region). Disturbance was examined along a tidal inundation gradient (distance from river mouth) and as habitat (island or mainland). Statistical models and model averaging were used to determine which factors were driving invasion success. In this study we found: (1) sparse evidence for the positive influence of propagule pressure on invasion success; (2) disturbance can negatively affect the invasion success of herbivorous insects; (3) the effects of disturbance and propagule pressure are species specific and vary among invasion stages, and (4) not all measures of propagule pressure show the same results, therefore single measures and proxies should be used cautiously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
provided constructive reviews. Funding for this project was provided to S. Schooler and R. Garono by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State Weed Board, to A. Yeates through an Australian Postgraduate Award, and to Y. Buckley by an ARC Australian Research Fellowship (DP0771387).


  • G. pusilla
  • Galerucella calmariensis
  • Hylobius transversovittatus
  • Introduced alien species
  • Nanophyes marmoratus
  • Purple loosestrife


Dive into the research topics of 'Biological control as an invasion process: Disturbance and propagule pressure affect the invasion success of Lythrum salicaria biological control agents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this