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Population growth lags in introduced species
journal contributionposted on 05.10.2021, 23:30 by Catherine L Kelly, Lin Schwarzkopf, Iain GordonIain Gordon, Ben Hirsch
When introduced to new ecosystems, species' populations often grow immediately postrelease. Some introduced species, however, maintain a low population size for years or decades before sudden, rapid population growth is observed. Because exponential population growth always starts slowly, it can be difficult to distinguish species experiencing the early phases of slow exponential population growth (inherent lags) from those with actively delayed growth rates (prolonged lags). Introduced ungulates provide an excellent system in which to examine lags, because some introduced ungulate populations have demonstrated rapid population growth immediately postintroduction, while others have not. Using studies from the literature, we investigated which exotic ungulate species and populations (n = 36) showed prolonged population growth lags by comparing the doubling time of real ungulate populations to those predicted from exponential growth models for theoretical populations. Having identified the specific populations that displayed prolonged lags, we examined the impacts of several environmental and biological variables likely to influence the length of lag period. We found that seventeen populations (47%) showed significant prolonged population growth lags. We could not, however, determine the specific factors that contributed to the length of these lag phases, suggesting that these ungulate populations' growth is idiosyncratic and difficult to predict. Introduced species that exhibit delayed growth should be closely monitored by managers, who must be proactive in controlling their growth to minimize the impact such populations may have on their environment.