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Ecological Impact Prediction

The rise of the functional response and other metrics

New metrics to understand and predict impacts of biological invasions have been pioneered by researchers based at QML over the last decade. Prof Jaimie Dick and Dr Ross Cuthbert have focused on the use of classical ecological concepts to quantify impacts, based on trophic interactions such as predation and herbivory.

Our researchers have identified the functional response of consumers to be a robust approach to measure ecological impacts, alongside population-level information such as field abundance and fecundity between invaders and natives. These new metrics can also capture interactions between biological invasions and other environmental changes, such as climate and habitat, in impact prediction.

The Functional Response Ratio (FRR)
Space and Time

The importance of space and time in biological invasions has been elucidated by researchers at QML. They have found consistent patterns in temporal trends of invasive species populations, finding evidence for the sigmoid ‘invasion curve’ at large scales which characterizes spread and impact against time since invasion.

Spatial patterns in invasion dynamics have also been determined, with high-risk donor regions for invasive species identified across taxa, which can help direct pathway management.

Invasion impacts and dynamics of a European-wide introduced species