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Patterns of invasions and the mechanism behind invasion resistance: Why are communities differently susceptible for invaders?

Folmer, E. (2003) Patterns of invasions and the mechanism behind invasion resistance: Why are communities differently susceptible for invaders? Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Abstract

Invasion of habitats by exotic species is a global phenomenon that can bring about serious damage to biodiversity, ecosystem fuinctioning and economic systems (Vitousek et al. 1997, Pimentel et al. 2000, Chapin et al. 2000, Mack et al. 2000, Sakai et al. 2001). The number of invasions is accelerating due to increased trade and transport. After habitat destruction and fragmentation, invasive species are considered the most important cause of loss of biodiversity. No ecosystems are preserved from invasive species and species from across all taxa are known to potentially become invasive. Despite the deleterious effects, invasions do occur and can be regarded large-scale natural experiments that could give insight in the population biology of invasive species and in the community ecology of invaded ecosystems. If the mechanisms behind the process of invasions can be understood, much damage can possibly be prevented or repaired. Characteristics of the invader in question, propagule pressure and the susceptibility of the invaded ecosystem influence the establishment- and invasion success of the exotic species. Much effort has been put into studying patterns between invasiveness and life history traits, evolutionary history and ecology of the invasive species. Such patterns would be particularly interesting to conservationists due to the predictive power that would emanate from such studies (Kolar and Lodge 2001). On the other hand it is thought that the susceptibility of ecosystems to invasive species could be an emergent property that depends on the community's diversity, competitive ability of residents and disturbance-regime (Elton 1958, Mack et al. 2000, Davis et al. 2000). In spite of the effort, until today we have a poor understanding of the mechanisms behind invasion resistance and we don't know why ecosystems are differently invasible, not to mention the disability of science to predict invasions. In this essay I will explore theory and empiry to get insight in the functioning of communities and ecosystems regarding invasions. The focus will be on plant communities because most of the theoretical and experimental research has been performed on this trophic level. Furthermore, if the mechanisms acting on this level are not understood it is impossible to understand the more complex whole system. Specifically, I will try to answer the question: "What is the mechanism behind invasion resistance ofplant communities and what is its effect?" Furthermore I will investigate patterns of invasibility and see how well these can be explained by our current knowledge of community ecology.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/9149

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