Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum) is an invasive tree in the southeastern United States that has been a management concern in Florida. We used observational and experimental approaches to explore factors influencing Chinese tallow invasion around the perimeter of Lake Jackson, Leon County, Florida. Twenty-one transect sites were randomly chosen, 12 with, and 9 without Chinese tallow. We used abundances of co-occurring species and abiotic environmental data to study factors associated with Chinese tallow abundance among and within transects. Canonical correspondence analysis indicated that soil moisture availability and other soil characteristics correlated with Chinese tallow invasion, but that Chinese tallow was not associated with other species distributions. A seeding experiment demonstrated that higher elevations with lower soil moisture have higher germination and seedling survival. This experiment predicts specific elevations around the lake that are most vulnerable to Chinese tallow invasion. Presence or absence of Chinese tallow among transects was not a significant predictor of germination success, suggesting that not all sites suitable for invasion have been invaded. In addition, controlled burning decreased germination probability and may therefore be useful for invasion control.
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Vol. 152 • No. 2