Disentangling, again, the drivers of population decline for two harvested species: a response to Prasad et al.
1.Ticktin et al. (2012) (Journal of Applied Ecology, 49, 774) assessed the dynamics of two
Indian tree species (Phyllanthus emblica and P. indofischeri) and showed that although fruit
harvest can decrease long-term populati on growth rates (k), the principal drivers of decline
are mistletoe infes tation and invasion of an exotic shrub. Prasad et al. (2014) (Journal of
Applied Ecology, 51, doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12170) questioned Ticktin et al.’s approach,
showed that P. emblica k values increased when fruit harvest was banned and concluded that
fruit harvest has a significant negative effect. We demonstrate that Prasad et al.’s analysis is
fundamentally flawed and that our conclusions hold firm.
2. We clarify that our models are built from empirical data collected from field plots. We use
life table response experiments to demonstrate that the increase in P. emblica ks after the frui t
harvest ban is due to higher adult survival and unrelated to fruit harvest. P. indofischeri
populations show no such increase.
3. We demonst rate that our results and the literature strongly back up our management rec-
ommendations to control mistletoe and the invasive shrub, and protect amla saplings.
4. Synthesis and applications . Prasad et al. (2014) confound the effe cts of time and treatment
and therefore reach erroneous conclusions. This highlights the importance of carefu l analyses
to disentangle the effects of multiple drivers of decline for species at risk.