Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecological impacts of invasive species can be readily predicted from features of their behavior

Date:
February 27, 2014
Source:
Queen's University, Belfast
Summary:
Ecologists have studied the behavior of some of the "world's worst" invasive species, including the large-mouth bass, an invasive fish which typically devastates invertebrate and other fish communities wherever it is introduced. They have revealed that the ecological impacts of invasive species might be readily predicted from features of their behavior.

Large-mouth bass, (Micropterus salmoides).
Credit: Chris Hill / Fotolia

A research breakthrough at Queen's University Belfast has sparked interest among aquatic biologists, zoologists and ecologists.

The joint research between Queen's and several South African institutions centred on the behaviour of some of the "world's worst" invasive species, including the large-mouth bass, an invasive fish which typically devastates invertebrate and other fish communities wherever it is introduced.

Previously, the search for general characteristics of invasive species had been elusive, but work carried out by Professor Jaimie Dick and post-doctoral researcher Mhairi Alexander, both from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's and Centre for Invasion Biology in Stellenbosch, South Africa, revealed that the ecological impacts of invasive species might be readily predicted from features of their behaviour.

Using an ecological theory that relates the rate at which an organism consumes resources to the density of that resource -- known as the 'functional response curve' -- the researchers showed that damaging invaders have consistently higher curves than natives.

Prof Dick explained the technique: "We presented the invasive fish, and local native fish of the same type, with tadpole prey at increasing densities. The invader fish consumed the prey at more than three times the rate of the native fish. The prey populations are simply not able to tolerate this increased mortality, and often go extinct soon after the invaders arrive. The data show that the invaders are predictable in their impacts by relatively simple derivation of their functional response curves as compared to natives."

Until now, the only reliable predictor of the impact of an invasive species has been its prior impacts elsewhere, but this was no use for invaders with no known impact history. Prof Dick continued: "We now have a method that allows us to understand the impacts of current invaders, but also to forecast the impacts of emerging and new invaders. We can also use the technique to predict how changing features of the environment, such as temperature, can increase or decrease the impacts of invaders. Our focus now is to examine if this technique works for a wide range of organisms. We are now testing the idea for other invasive fish, shrimps, wasps, and even plants, as they too can be measured as to their resource uptake rates, for example, with enriched nitrogen."

"The more invasive species that are tested with our method around the world the more we can draw broad conclusions as to the reliability of the method, but all results so far are very promising," Prof Dick added.

The findings, which were funded by the Leverhulme Trust, NERC and the Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch, have been enthusiastically welcomed by the international research community. Prof Dick has presented keynotes at conferences and workshops in Canada, US, Argentina, Germany, France, Belgium, South Africa and China.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University, Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. E. Alexander, J. T. A. Dick, O. L. F. Weyl, T. B. Robinson, D. M. Richardson. Existing and emerging high impact invasive species are characterized by higher functional responses than natives. Biology Letters, 2014; 10 (2): 20130946 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0946

Cite This Page:

Queen's University, Belfast. "Ecological impacts of invasive species can be readily predicted from features of their behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227092044.htm>.
Queen's University, Belfast. (2014, February 27). Ecological impacts of invasive species can be readily predicted from features of their behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227092044.htm
Queen's University, Belfast. "Ecological impacts of invasive species can be readily predicted from features of their behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227092044.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins