A few weeks ago now I had the opportunity of presenting at INTECOL 2013 in London. It was my first international conference and a great opportunity to see the ‘big-wig’s’ of ecology talk about their research and ideas. One thing I did take away from it was the importance of social media in networking, organising collaborations and promoting your latest research in the fast-paced 21st century! It is with that in mind that I dust off the ol’blog and give anyone an opportunity to check out the details of the concept paper I gave at the conference;
Highlighting ‘secondary invasion’ as an important concept when considering the determinants of invasion success
Biological invasions are a significant threat to all ecosystems and considerable research effort is focussed on determining the mechanisms of invasion success. Increasingly, positive interactions between alien species have shown to increase impacts and potentially facilitate other exotic species to enter the system. This phenomenon of secondary invasion is a key aspect of the invasional meltdown hypothesis but is rarely the focus of research and is poorly expressed in the ecological literature. We define secondary invasion as the scenario whereby the invasion success of one exotic species is contingent on the presence and influence of another exotic species. Clearly defining secondary invasion is important for two reasons; 1) for clarity: the term secondary invasion is used loosely and interchangeably with other terms to describe multiple aspects of biological invasions such as secondary spread, and 2) for ecological theory: defining the phenomenon allows researchers to consider these kinds of interactions when developing ideas on the drivers of invasion success. Recent studies provide two distinct examples in which secondary invasion can occur. A true-entry model details primary invaders facilitating entry of an exotic species into a system where it was previously inhibited. A population-release model details primary invaders releasing exotic species from a naturalised state of low abundance to that of a common invasive species. In all examples, secondary invasion occurs via indirect associations between exotic species, mediated through changes in the recipient community as a result of the presence and influence of a primary invader. On Christmas Island, mutualism between invasive yellow crazy ants and honeydew-secreting scale insects has led to population explosions of both, dramatically altering the rainforest understory by causing the local extinction of omnivorous red crabs. We tested the hypothesis that by deleting red crabs, the ant-scale mutualism facilitates the secondary invasion of rainforest by a variety of non-native landsnails. Using results from our experiments and others, we highlight secondary invasion as an important phenomenon in refining our understanding of the determinants of invasion success.
If anyone is interested in seeing the slides or has any comment or questions feel free to email me (email@example.com) and I’ll send you a PDF (I would have just posted them here but working out how to do that took up more than the few minutes I dedicated to such activity.