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Effects of Invasive Non-Native Species within ecological networks and consequences for ecosystem function


UK CEH

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Dr H Roy , Dr B Purse , Dr Louise Barwell , Dr Daniel Chapman No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) are considered a major driver of biodiversity loss. There is increasing empirical evidence of the direct and indirect effects of invasive non-native species on biodiversity but the scale of such studies is often limited. We propose to extend invasion models to encompass ecological networks and explore the hypothesis that invasive non-native species weaken the strength of interactions within ecological networks with negative consequences for ecosystem function. Most studies on the impacts of invasions focus on the impacts of one species on another and are limited to the population‐level, thereby avoiding the complexities of a community approach whereby assemblages of species would be included. Oversimplified studies could result in misleading conclusions because of the importance of positive and negative feedback mechanisms, for example those mediated by parasites, throughout communities and consequently resultant effects on the functions they deliver. There is considerable scope to improve understanding by taking a network approach to unravelling impacts of invasive non-native species and so enhance predictions of impact and community resilience so informing decision-making tools such as risk assessments.

Using modelling approaches to explore ecological networks the student will address questions including:
In what ways do the strength of interactions change within ecological networks including invasive non-native species?
How do such changes effect ecosystem function?
What is the relevance to ecosystem services approaches and Nature’s Contributions to People (as defined by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)?
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