Displacement and replacement in real time: Polistes dominula's impact on P. fuscatus in the northeastern U.S.


Two major challenges in studying the impacts of exotic invasive species on native species are identifying mechanisms of displacement and replacement and the lack of long-term population studies in these systems. A solution for the first is to study invasive and native congeners that occupy the same niche. A solution for the second is to study many populations for one year instead of one population for many years. We studied the invasion biology of the invasive European paper wasp Polistes dominula and its native congener the Northern paper wasp P. fuscatus, two species which compete for similar resources. We tracked the demography of the two wasps at sites in the northeastern United States. We found that the survival of P. dominula to the reproductive period in August was three times that of P. fuscatus, across all sites. The reproductive output of P. fuscatus declined in direct proportion to the percentage of P. dominula nests at the site. P. fuscatus nests at uninvaded sites had three times the nest cells of those at the most invaded sites. These findings suggest a positive feedback cycle in the establishment of P. dominula, in which the invasive wasp drives population declines in the native that in turn allow P. dominula to further establish. This system provides an example of a possible extinction vortex caused by competitive exclusion of a species by its invasive congener.

Biological Invasions
Dr. July Pilowsky
Dr. July Pilowsky
he / they / she

Computational ecologist using models to understand the natural world.