Friday, 28 May 2010

Invasive Earthworms - not such friendly soil munchers?

I saw this link on the Bioinvasion and Ecoservices blog: it is a BBC news article about a very interesting paper just out that shows Earthworms actually eat seeds and seedlings, not just dead matter.  This has major implications for the spread of the humble Earthworm that is making is way (with the help of people, of course) from Europe across other continents.  Although there always going to be benefits of worms, such as nutrient cycling, their presence in new landscapes may potentially cause plant species extinction as the worms begin to eat their seedling which previously had no 'predators'.

N. Eisenhauer, O. Butenschoen, S. Radsick and S. Scheu (in press, May 2010) Earthworms as seedling predators: Importance of seeds and seedlings for earthworm nutrition Soil Biology and Biochemistry 
(image found on the Mad Science website)

Dispersal of Invasives - Ecological Applications

I noticed these papers a little while ago in the April 2010 issue of Ecological Applications, but seeing them again in an email alert made me think I should have put them on my blog and perhaps highlight them for a F1000 review:

The effects of temporally variable dispersal and landscape structure on invasive species spread (2010) M.E. Andrew and S.L. Ustin Ecological Applications Vol. 20, No. 3: 593-608.

Contributions of demography and dispersal parameters to the spatial spread of a stage-structured insect invasion (2010) T.E.X. Miller and B. Tenhumberg Ecological Applications Vol. 20, No. 3: 620-633.

 As they are modelling papers they are particularly interesting to me.  The first provides some very interesting general insights on initial rates of spread gained from remote sensing studies and simulation modelling of the dispersal of invasive species. The second is a good demonstration of the way in which modelling can be used to identify which points in the life cycle should be targets of management.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

May Review for F1000

Use of Abundance of One Species as a Surrogate for Abundance of Others.
Cushman SA, McKelvey KS, Noon BR, McGarigal K (2010) Conservation Biology Published Online: 7 Jan 2010 (early view) DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01396.x

We have gone a little bit away from the biosecurity and invasive species theme this month, as we felt this paper was a very important more general paper.  There is a long history of the use of surrogate 'indicator' species in conservation management and scientific research that has never seemed entirely justified.  Others have challenged these ideas before, however, this paper provides a very clear message that caution should be used - proving rather than assuming that the abundance of one species may represent the abundance of another. 

Our Review 
Mark Lonsdale: Faculty of 1000 Biology, 11 May 2010
Copyright F1000  

Friday, 7 May 2010

Two interesting F1000 reviews (invasives)

I've just received the bulletin of the latest reviews from F1000 and noticed a couple of interesting reviews for papers on invasive species...