Simulation model suggests that fire promotes lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) invasion in Patagonia

Kimberley T. Davis, Bruce D. Maxwell, Paul Caplat, Aníbal Pauchard, Martin A. Nuñez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
123 Downloads (Pure)


To best understand plant invasions and predict unexpected outcomes it is necessary to integrate information on disturbance, the local environment, and demography. Disturbance by fire has been shown to promote invasions worldwide, but precise interactions between fire, native and invading species remain unclear. Indeed, trade-offs exist between fire-induced mortality of seed sources and increased establishment, driving invasion outcomes. A positive feedback between lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) invasions and fire has been identified but only above a certain pine density. Above this threshold, fire resulted in increased pine dominance at the plot level, however below this threshold establishment rates did not change. We used a spatially explicit invasion simulation model modified to include fire to explore the implications of these complex interactions between pine invasions and fire. We asked if fire promoted P. contorta invasion across a Patagonian steppe site and if this depended on the age of the invasion when it burned. Our simulations indicated that, although fire was not necessary to initiate invasion, fire in communities where pine invasions were at least 10 years old resulted in increased spatial extent and maximum invasion density compared to unburned simulations. Fire through younger invasions did not alter the progression of the invasion compared to unburned simulations. Pine invasions should be managed before they reach an advanced stage where positive feedbacks between fire and pine invasion could lead to dramatic increases in invasion rate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
Early online date23 Mar 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 23 Mar 2019


  • Biological invasion
  • Fire
  • Pinus
  • Positive feedback
  • Simulation model
  • Tree invasion


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