Monday, 22 November 2010

What Makes an Alien Invasive?

This is the title of the forthcoming conference of the Association of Applied Biologists in the UK, to be held in Edinburgh.  The conference is to take place in early December (soon!) but it looks like it is still possible to register.  More details on the conference website here.

The conference looks very interesting - it is focused in Europe however it asks questions of global relevance.  The key question the conference asks, "what criteria make alien species become an invasive species?" can be asked at all stages of an 'invasion' - pre-border, at border and post-border.  It is foremost when thinking about risk assessment, detection and management of alien species as potential invasives.   

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Plant Invasions: theoretical and practical challenges

"Plant Invasions: theoretical and practical challenges" is the title of a recent collection of papers in the journal Biological Invasions. 
This collection of papers span a wide range of topics relating to the study and management of plant invasions.  Richardson et al provide a summary article at the start of the special issue, recognizing 6 broad themes amongst the papers:

• ‘‘big-picture’’ analyses to derive new insights on invasion dynamics for large regions and biomes;
• detailed studies on major invasive species, drawing on insights from con-specific and con-generic invasions in other regions;
• genetic studies to elucidate invasion processes and inform management strategies;
• assessment of the relative role of climate matching in shaping invasion patterns through the analysis of patterns of distribution of invasive species along elevational gradients;
• assessing potential changes in invasion dynamics and impacts under climate change;
• new approaches for integrating advances in the understanding of invasion ecology to improve management

I haven't had a chance to read these yet, however looking through the studies those that examine the role of climatic factors in invasions and also those that look at the effects of climate change stood out to me.  There is also a strong 'practical' leaning in this special issue, with a number of papers tackling 'management' issues.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

October Review for F1000

Oops I'm a little behind on putting our last review up here - its nearly time for the next one! Last month we reviewed a global 'meta-analysis' of data from across the globe that indicates higher water use by invasive species when compared with co-occurring natives.  Although some bias was evident in the data used to conduct the analysis (well, it was a US-based paper in a US-based journal...) we feel the results are still broad enough to present a persuasive case. 

Comparative water use of native and invasive plants at multiple scales: a global meta-analysis. Cavaleri MA, Sack L Ecology. 2010 Sep; 91(9):2705-15
DOI:  10.1890/09-0582.1

Our Review:
Lonsdale M: 2010.
Copyright F1000

This paper gives some clear indications of the increases in water use that may arise as a consequence of invasive species in a variety of ecosystems across the globe. The paper stands out as it not only analyses differences between co-occurring native and invasive species of the same growth form in a comprehensive fashion, but also suggests mechanisms for these differences and avenues of further research. The study also refutes the theory that invasive species are successful due to more efficient resource use when compared with natives.