Predicting spatially heterogeneous invasive spread: Pyracantha angustifolia invading a dry Andean valley in northern Argentina

Fiona Anne Plenderleith* (Corresponding Author), Valentina A. Irrazabal, Justin Travis, David Burslem, Priscila Ana Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding the drivers of invasive species spread is key to designing optimal management programmes for controlling them. Population models, parameterized from demographic and dispersal data, are useful for simulating invasion when long-term observations are lacking, which is particularly important when invasions are occurring rapidly. We aimed to understand how the spread of Pyracantha angustifolia (an invasive ornamental shrub) is influenced by heterogeneity in local conditions within a dry inter-montane
valley in northwestern Argentina that is currently experiencing rapid urban expansion and concomitant reduction in cattle farming. Field surveys demonstrated that individuals growing in shrublands have a higher fecundity than those in grassland and rocky habitats. Furthermore, grazing pressure of cattle and horses substantially reduces fecundity and impacts the relationship between age and fecundity. We incorporated our field-estimated habitat and age-specific fecundities into both analytical integro-difference equation
models and individual-based models to predict rates of spread across each habitat type in the presence or absence of grazing pressure. Results indicate that the rate of spread would be substantially higher in shrublands (by up to 33%) and highlight that grazing pressure can, through direct consumption of seeds by
livestock, substantially depress the rate of spread (by up to 53%). These results suggest that shrubland areas in the valley are most vulnerable to invasion and that grazing may help to reduce the impact of Pyracantha. This suggests that a synergism between urban expansion and reduction in domestic livestock density
contributes to the spread of an invasive species in this environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2201–2216
Number of pages16
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number12
Early online date25 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to Dominic Brass and Stephen White for providing code for running the analytical model, Thomas Cornulier and Ezequiel Aráoz for their advice.
Funding was provided by an SBS PGT project award (School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen) and project CONTAIN, and equipment provided by Instituto de Ecología Regional. Project CONTAIN is funded under the Latin American Biodiversity Programme, as part of the Newton Fund (NE/S011641/1) with contributions from NERC, the Argentine National Scientific & Technical Research Council (CONICET,-2019-74-APN-DIR#CONICET), the Brazilian São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP2018/14995-8 ), the Chilean National Commission for Scientific & Technological Research (CONICYT).

Data Availability Statement

Data availability
Raw data available at Plenderleith, F.A.;
Irrazabal, V.A.; Burslem, D.F.R.P.; Travis, J.M.J.; Powell, P.A.
(2020). Demographic characteristics and habitat of Pyracantha
angustifolia collected from Northwest Argentina, May 2019.
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

Supplementary Information
The online version
contains supplementary material available at https://doi.


  • Grazing
  • Habitat specific
  • Invasive spread
  • Invasion model
  • Range expansion
  • Spatial heterogeneity


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