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Spread of an Invasive Pathogen over a Variable Landscape: A Nonnative Root Rot on Port Orford Cedar

Erik S. Jules, Matthew J. Kauffman, William D. Ritts and Allyson L. Carroll
Ecology
Vol. 83, No. 11 (Nov., 2002), pp. 3167-3181
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/3071851
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3071851
Page Count: 15
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Spread of an Invasive Pathogen over a Variable Landscape: A Nonnative Root Rot on Port Orford Cedar
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Abstract

Understanding biological invasions requires information on the history of spatial spread, as well as measures of landscape and biotic features that control habitat invasibility. Because invasive species often spread quickly over large areas, attaining these two sets of information simultaneously is uncommon. We studied the spread of a fatal nonnative root pathogen, Phytophthora lateralis, across a heterogeneous landscape of its host, Port Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). Within our 37-km2 study area in southwestern Oregon and northwest California, Port Orford cedar populations are generally restricted to riparian zones along creeks. The pathogen is spread between watersheds in two ways: (1) by spore-infested material being dislodged from vehicles, and (2) by animals or people moving infested mud (i.e., via foot traffic). Using dendrochronological techniques, we determined the date of infection for dead cedars and reconstructed spread history across our study area from 1977 to 1999. Twenty-six of the 36 (72%) separate infection events we identified were caused by dispersal via vehicles along roads, and the remainder by foot traffic. Survival analysis demonstrated that cedar populations in creeks crossed by roads were more likely to be infected than those creeks that were not crossed by roads. Also, a comparison of minimum dispersal distances showed infections that moved via road moved significantly farther than those vectored by foot traffic, and the distance infection traveled declined significantly through time. We also coupled our spread history with measures of landscape and host features, including abundance of potential host trees, the distance from the road surface to the nearest potential host, length of road in immediate contact with the riparian zone, catchment area (a measure of stream flow), elevation, slope, and solar radiation. Our results show that catchment area, host abundance, and proximity to the nearest tree are significantly and positively associated with infection risk. Our study demonstrates that increased connectivity between invasible sites created by the presence of roads can increase invasion success of a plant pathogen. We also document that successful pathogen invasion can be governed by both physical landscape features and attributes of host plant populations.

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