Monday, 7 November 2011

A global experiment in biogeography

I am continuing to assist Dr Lonsdale and review for F1000 after all!  The last few months there seems to have been an absolute flurry of decent articles on invasion ecology, so we have carefully waded through to try and pick out some gems.  This review is really a review of a special issue rather than a single article, with an entire issue of Diversity and Distributions dedicated to that global wanderer, the Acacia.  This showcases a diverse range of excellent studies on the acacia from across the globe.

Human-mediated introductions of Australian acacias – a global experiment in biogeography.  
Richardson, D. M., Carruthers, J., Hui, C., Impson, F. A. C., Miller, J. T., Robertson, M. P., Rouget, M., Le Roux, J. J. and Wilson, J. R. U. (2011) Diversity and Distributions, 17: 771–787.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00824.x

Our review: Parry H, Lonsdale M: 2011.

This is the leading article for a special issue of ‘Diversity and Distributions’ that focuses on the global movement of Australian acacia species and their invasiveness. The paper is important in establishing the case that acacias are a powerful model for testing some fundamental ideas in invasion ecology, which subsequent articles in the issue go on to do. 
The paper argues that acacias are an excellent model group to examine the multiple drivers of species introductions. The authors present an overview of Australian acacia species and their invasiveness, as well as map the global invasion history of acacias onto the unified framework for biological invasions [1]. This paper also serves as an introduction to an interesting special issue, with highlights that include an analysis of the native ‘macroecological’ distribution of acacias in relation to their global invasiveness [2]. The latter article concludes that there is a (possibly human) bias in introductions for acacias with large ranges and high rates of population increase in their native range. The following articles within the journal then focus on predicting the invasiveness of acacias based on climatic envelopes, life history and human use [3], as well as mechanistic niche modelling to project future distributions under climate change scenarios [4]. Another highlight is an article that uses a phylogenetically corrected dataset to explore the role of genome size and functional traits in invasiveness [5]. Overall, this special issue highlights the opportunity that acacias and other woody plants [6] provide us to address some general ecological questions about invasion ecology.

[1] Blackburn et al. Trends Ecol Evol 2011, 26:333-9
[2] Hui et al. Divers Distrib 2011, 17:872-83 
[3] Castro-Díez et al. Divers Distrib 2011, 17:934-45 
[4] Webber et al. Divers Distrib 2011, 17:978-1000
[5] Gallagher et al. Divers Distrib 2011, 17:884-97.
[6] Richardson and Rejmánek, Divers Distrib 2011, 17:788-809

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