Policy to address human-wildlife conflict is often controversial and developing policy to mitigate these conflicts is increasingly important and often driven by both societal and biological factors. Yet the interaction between societal and biological drivers and the relative contribution of these to environmental policy remains understudied. Understanding these interactions requires both investigation of the latent biological processes that give rise to the policy issue and also the societal perceptions of these biological processes. I investigate these interactions using a globally important invasive species – Sus scrofa the wild pig. To elucidate biological processes important for invasive species, in order to better understand policy opportunities and consequences, I investigated hypothesis of ecological processes important for short-term population dynamics that contribute to invasive species population growth. I also investigated ecological drivers of pathogen prevalence for a single-host and multi-host pathogen in wild pigs.
With regard to drivers of population growth I found consistent differences in the way vital rates and age structure in invasive and native populations contribute to short-term population growth. Contrary to the demographic buffering hypothesis, vital rates that had the largest influence on population growth also had the greatest variability. Invasive population’s demonstrated trade-offs between juvenile age structure and vital rates indicating demographic buffering may be an important contributor to invasive species population dynamics.
Pathogen prevalence was associated with environmental gradients effecting host survival and by changes in mammal host species richness. A single-host pathogen was most sensitive to changes in both environmental conditions and species richness relative to a multi-host pathogen. I found support for dilution effects but did not find support for amplification effects when controlling for environmental factors, host density and observation error.