Invasive species

Disturbances that remove primary producers and alter substrate chemistry commonly influence ecosystem carbon dynamics. Because coastal wetlands are especially effective in sequestering carbon, quantifying how disturbances may alter their ability to perform this climate-regulating function is important for assessing their carbon storage potential.

The last two decades have seen an upsurge in research into the potential synergies between invasive species and climate change, with evidence emerging of increased invader success under climate change. All stages along the naturalization-invasion continuum are likely to be affected, from the introduction and establishment of alien species to their spread and transition to serious invaders. A key question is whether alien plants will have a relative advantage under climate change conditions.

Disturbances are a primary facilitator of the growth and spread of invasive species. However, the effects of large-scale disturbances, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, on the broad geographic patterns of invasive species growth and spread have not been investigated. We used historical aerial imagery to determine the growth rate of invasive Phragmites australis patches in wetlands along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. These were relatively undisturbed wetlands where P. australis had room for unrestricted growth. Over the past several decades, invasive P.

In tropical forests, natural disturbance creates opportunities for species to claim previously utilized space and resources and is considered an important mechanism in the maintenance of species diversity. However, ecologists have long recognized that disturbance also promotes exotic plant invasions. Cyclones cause extensive defoliation, loss of major branches and multiple tree falls, resulting in a significantly more open canopy and increased light and heat levels in the understorey.

In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel caused unexpectedly high levels of wind damage to an 80-to 100-year-old forest in the Piedmont of Maryland. The storm had decreased in intensity from landfall by the time it reached the study site—sustained winds were moderate and maximum gusts recorded in the area were only 62.7 mph (28.1 m?s-1). Midsized gaps (up to 1 ha) were created in forest that historically had only small or single-tree gaps. Isabel created the opportunity to determine whether natural disturbance facilitates the spread of exotic invasive plant species.

Management and eradication techniques for invasive alien birds remain in their infancy compared to invasive mammal control methods, and there are still relatively few examples of successful avian eradications. Since 2011, five separate eradication programmes for invasive birds have been conducted on three islands by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF). Target species were prioritised according to their threat level to the native biodiversity of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll and Vallée de Mai, which SIF is responsible for managing and protecting.

Despite the presence of invasive black rats (Rattus rattus), common mynas (Acridotheres tristis), and feral domestic cats (Felis catus), sooty terns (Onychoprion fuscatus) breed in large numbers on Ascension Island in the tropical South Atlantic Ocean. These introduced predators impact the terns by destroying eggs or interrupting incubation (mynas), eating eggs (mynas and rats), eating chicks (rats and cats), or eating adults (cats). Between 1990 and 2015, 26 censuses of sooty terns and five of mynas were completed and myna predation was monitored on 10 occasions.

Invasive plants and animals inflict much damage on native species and this is particularly the case on isolated oceanic islands with high degrees of endemism. Such islands commonly are important refugia for species of high conservation value. Some of the most pervasive and potent of invasive animal species are birds of the myna (Acridotheres) and bulbul (Pycnonotus) genera that historically were introduced to isolated islands as biological control agents for the management of insect pest species that can cause considerable economic damage to agricultural crops and wider ecosystems.

The endemic-rich amphibian fauna of the Philippine Archipelago (ca. 350,000 km2) includes six alien frogs: the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), Asiatic painted toad (Kaloula pulchra), cane toad (Rhinella marina), Chinese bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus), green paddy frog (Hylarana erythraea), and greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris). The chronological history of their invasion across the Philippines was reconstructed based on historical and geographic data.