Posted by: oikosasa | June 14, 2013

Editor’s Choice June

Dries

Oikos’ Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Dries Bonte, explains his choice of EC-papers for the June issue:

Editor’s choice papers from the June issue create synthesis on invasions.

Zenni & Nuñez  focus in a forum paper “The elephant in the room: the role of failed invasions in understanding invasion biology” on the importance of failed invasions to understand mechanisms behind invasions. They provide a review on studies documenting success and especially failures of invasions and found –not surprisingly I have to say- that only few studies have documented conclusively why populations fail to invade. The authors followed a paired approach contrasting environmental factors in invasive versus non-invasive populations of different species. They were, despite the lack of a well-developed research framework, able to demonstrate that different mechanisms may be causing failures vs. successes: propagule pressure, abiotic resistance, biotic resistance, genetic constraints and mutualist release. Rafael and Martin discuss the evidence available for the factors associated with these failures to invade. They additionally identify research field that are likely to produce misleading insights when neglecting these mechanisms of failure. Such biased reporting may thus not only mislead researchers, but certainly managers on the mechanisms leading to invasions.

There is consensus that when introduced organisms invade, they may cause considerable changes in community and ecosystem dynamics. While invasions are generally associated with negative impacts, Paul Gribben and colleagues demonstrate in their paper “Positive versus negative effects of an invasive ecosystem engineer on different components of a marine ecosystem” that an invasive engineer species may also contribute positively to marine community structure. They more specifically studied the impact of the invasive green alga Caulerpa taxifolia in southeastern Australia on the composition and abundance of the epifaunal and infauna community. More detailed species responses where experimentally approached. While contrasting impacts on different community components were obvious, they also showed that community change following the invasive species’ removal appeared strongly density dependent with the degree of recovery five months post removal related to the initial biomass. Areas with different biomasses of habitat-forming (invasive) species may subsequently have different temporal recovery trajectories. So, as highlighted by Zenni & Nuñez, the impact of the invasive species is strongly context-dependent and its impact differs according to the community components under study.

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