A5: Profiling plants to predict success and longevity of climate change-induced invasions

PhD student: Janina Radny
Thesis Committee: Dr. Katrin Meyer, Prof. Kerstin Wiegand, Prof. Thomas Kneib

Under current climate change scenarios, several species will shift their distribution ranges to higher latitudes and altitudes (Parmesan & Yohe, 2003). Although range expansion is not a new phenomenon in ecology, the rate of species movement is increasing (Thompson et al., 1995; Root et al. 2003) and is seen as an important component of global change dynamics (Dukes & Mooney, 1999). Previous studies have been conducted mostly with intercontinental range expansions and led to the "10s rule", stating that 1 of 10 exotic plant species can establish and another 1 of 10 established species become pests (Williamson & Fitter, 1996). Intracontinental range shifts however might show different patterns of success due to higher propagule pressure and more constant gene flow (Van der Putten et al., 2010). Hence, invasion biologists are searching for Invasive Species Predictive Schemes (ISPS). Plant traits have been identified to be an important factor of invasive success but because many studies focused on single traits there is a lack of generalization and explanatory power (Küster et al., 2008).
In our study we will pay attention to combinations of plant traits, indicating their ecological strategies with a special focus on their abilities with regard to competition, defense against herbivores and dispersal. We will consider biotic interactions with the native plant community as well as resisting enemies. The developed model will include different spatial scales, namely the interaction neighborhood, the local and regional metacommunity. At a later stage of the study we will extend the temporal scale from ecological to evolutionary time frames to assess the importance of trade-offs in species traits.

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