Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Mapping threatened ecosystems in Australia

This is an interesting map, recently published as part of the Bioscience article 'The Spatial Distribution of Threats to Species in Australia', Evans et al., BioScience, 61(4):281-289. 2011.

Figure 3: The distribution of the predominant threats to biodiversity across Australia. The “predominant threat” is the threat affecting the greatest number of species in each subcatchment. Where two or more threats affect an equivalent number of species, we consider there to be no predominant threat occurring in these subcatchments, displayed here in shades of gray.
Darker colors indicate a larger overall number of threats occurring in the subcatchment. White indicates areas where no threatened species occur.
 This is quite a novel way to highlight the range of threats to Australian ecosystems, putting them in a spatial context.  The article argues that the use of such a spatial and visual analysis will aid mitigation efforts and help identify location-specific threats.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Mother Nature's Melting Pot?!

The latest 'pro-invasive' article I've come across was from reading this post on my colleague Shuang's blog, linking to an article in the New York Times "Mother Nature's Melting Pot".  This article makes a pretty outrageous link (imho) between alien plant and animal species and human immigrants.  Hang on, Homo sapiens are a single species last time I checked, so perhaps its not too surprising we can live happily alongside one another - though then again, perhaps we could take a few lessons from ecology in that respect!

While the vanguard of the anti-immigrant crusade is found among the likes of the Minutemen and the Tea Party, the native species movement is led by environmentalists, conservationists and gardeners. Despite cultural and political differences, both are motivated — in Margaret Thatcher’s infamous phrase — by the fear of being swamped by aliens.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

April review for F1000

This month we have found some good papers.  We decided to first review a paper that is very much in Mark's field of interest - what factors determine species invasion success.  This paper provides some evidence as to whether greater phenotypic plasticity of invasives is important. 

 AM Davidson, M Jennions, AB Nicotra (2011) Do invasive species show higher phenotypic plasticity than native species and, if so, is it adaptive? A meta-analysis. Ecol Lett 2011 Apr 14 4:419-31
DOI 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01596.x

Our Review: Parry H, Lonsdale M: 2011. 
Another review of this paper is also available at the above link, by Hao Wang and Mark Lewis of the University of Alberta, Canada. 

What are the determinants of success in invasive species? Tonnes of wood pulp have been expended in proposing predictors of invasion success, such as morphology, taxonomic relatedness and propagule pressure, which might help us to screen out dangerous species before it is too late.