Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Invasive Species Widespread, but Not More than at Home Range

04.03.2011
Invasive plant species have long had a reputation as being bad for a new ecosystem when they are introduced.

Stan Harpole, assistant professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State University, is founding organizer of a team of more than 70 researchers working at 65 sites worldwide that tested that assumption.

They wanted to know if it is true that problematic invasive species often spread widely in their new habitats because they don’t encounter predators or diseases that help keep them in check in their home ranges.

“There is this assumption that when plants invade a new area that they become much more abundant in the new area than they were in the native areas,” said Harpole. “It turns out that, on average, they aren’t any more abundant away from home than they are at home.”

Harpole says there is a “rule of 10s” that can apply to invasive species.

“Of, say, 100 plants that arrive in a new area, only about 10 percent of those will survive without being in a greenhouse or some other controlled area,” said Harpole. “Of those 10 that can survive, only about 10 percent of those really cause problems.

“When you think about all the species we’ve brought over from other areas, relatively few have become serious pest species. The problem is we’ve brought over so many that quite a few have become major problems and they get a lot of attention.”

Harpole points to the kudzu plant as an example.

Kudzu was introduced from Asia as a soil erosion plant more than a century ago. It now chokes out native species from Texas to Maine to Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Problem plants like this are uncommon when compared to all the exotic species in a region, but they do get the most interest and may give the impression that species that escape their home range often spread and take over new habitats and become more abundant than before, says Harpole.

Invasion can also be thought of more generally as a process in which new species enter new habitats. Even plants now considered native were once invaders, says Harpole.

When glaciers receded from the Midwest 10,000 years ago, there were no native species in the area – the retreating ice left bare ground open for invasion.

“All the plants that are now seen as native were invasive in the past in the sense that they had to spread across the landscape,” he said.

“What’s different today is that we move plants so much faster than they would move by themselves. Now a species can become global in a matter of years, where it may have taken tens of thousands of years in the past,” said Harpole.

Harpole is coauthor of a research paper led by Jennifer Firn of Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and is published in the journal Ecology Letters. Coordination of the study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Stanley Harpole, Ecology Evolution and Organismal Biology, 515-294-7253, harpole@iastate.edu

Stanley Harpole | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New findings help to better calculate the oceans’ contribution to climate regulation

15.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Automated adhesive film placement and stringer integration for aircraft manufacture

15.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>