Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Move along, nothing to see here!
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bostonimproper
Posts: 350
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Post by bostonimproper »

I have an ecology question and don’t really know how to find the answer (AI-overkill Google is almost impossible to search with nowadays).

The question is this: How do ecologists differentiate between a invasive versus benign non-native species? I’m thinking particularly in the case of “range-shifting” or “climate-tracking” species that are moving north as climate changes.

mountainFrugal
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri May 07, 2021 2:26 pm

Re: Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Post by mountainFrugal »

Invasive species are generally defined as causing significant displacement of native species either through direct competition or indirectly through significant habitat change. There is a general rule of thumb that 10% of introduced species will be able to survive in an ecosystem and 10% of those (1% of total introduced species) will become a problem for the ecosystem or for agriculture and be considered "invasive". Examples include cheatgrass (invasive grass in the intermountain west that increases fires and outcompetes slower growing natives), cane toads and rabbits (Australia), Kudzu vine in the Southeastern US. A species can be non-native in one part of a region and be benign, but shift the ecosystem type a bit in a different part of that region, and it could become invasive. Many invasive species are R selected (versus K selected) so they have relatively short generation times, do not usually invest much in each offspring, and go for the high offspring numbers game. Shorter generation times lead to faster potential evolution if the population is selected drastically enough (see herbicide resistant weeds in agriculture as an example). Diverse ecosystems are much more resilient to invasion because all of the the available niches are filled (not impossible, just less likely). It is an active research area as to how climate shifts might make "naturalized" species for a given habitat tip towards becoming invasive. So it might not just be invasive species shifting with climate from your original question, but could also be naturalized species that can become more invasive for a given ecosystem with climate shifts.

cheatgrass: https://rockies.audubon.org/sagebrush/cheatgrass-fire
kudzu: https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/w ... e-species/
toads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm3hd1pxHME (this is a hilarious video...cut as equal time pro toad/anti-toad propaganda... but cane toads are a terrible invasive species that were purposefully introduced!)

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7701
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Jumping Earthworms are another “fun” example. Common earthworms are also invasive, but not so bad.

Some knowledgeable humans think that at this juncture we should tolerate/encourage anything that processes CO2. Seems too linear to me.

I am thinking about ordering some pink dandelion seeds at 10 cents each.

enigmaT120
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:14 pm
Location: Falls City, OR

Re: Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Post by enigmaT120 »

I've never seen pink dandelions.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7701
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Any ecologists/conservationists on here?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds


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