Temperature-dependent Allee effects in a stage-structured model for Bythotrephes establishment

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  • Whether the invasive freshwater cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus can establish after introduction into a water body depends on several biotic and abiotic factors. Among these, water temperature is important because both development rates and mode of reproduction (parthenogenetic or sexual) in Bythotrephes are influenced by temperature. We built a stage-structured model for the population dynamics of Bythotrephes based on the temperature-dependency of events in its life cycle and used the density of resting eggs at the end of each year to track changes in population density. The model was parameterized using data from published laboratory experiments and data on the Bythotrephes population in Harp Lake, Canada, from 1994 to 2005. The parameterized model was then used to simulate the outcome of invasions with different initial resting egg densities under different temperature regimes. A strong Allee effect emerged from the model, i.e. there is a critical threshold density above which the population can establish and below which it goes extinct. We showed analytically that the existence of an Allee effect arises from the model structure and is therefore robust to the parameter values. An increase in temperature reduces the establishment threshold for introductions in the same year as well as for introductions in the previous years. We therefore hypothesize that climate warming might facilitate Bythotrephes invasions. Finally, we study how the establishment threshold is influenced by the timing of the introduction event and thus identify time periods during the year when lakes may be particularly susceptible to Bythotrephes invasions.

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    © 2011 Springer. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.