The proposed research will evaluate the degree to which exotic invasive species evolve within their non-native range, and to what extent this divergence plays a role in their population growth rates and hence impacts on natural and agricultural ecosystems. Invasive species are known threats to human health, human economies, and the integrity of the environment. The ill effects of exotic invasive species are felt particularly strongly on islands, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii. As global trade and tourism increasingly influence the US economy, more exotic species will be imported and released here. Thus, the need to effectively identify and manage harmful invaders will become acute. Despite this realization, science-based approaches to predicting and managing invaders have not been widely adopted and are considered of marginal use by many natural resource managers. This shortfall reflects inherent difficulties in predicting the outcome of a complex multi-stage process, and a failure to recognize that evolutionary changes in the invader may increase its harmful effects. Information on avian invasions is an exception to the latter problem. There exists comprehensive and detailed information surrounding avian invasions such that ecologists can track the fate of exotic birds through the multi-stage invasion process. Importantly, avian invasions also provide a unique window into rates of contemporary evolution, and the influence such changes have on their ubiquity in natural and managed ecosystems.
|Effective start/end date||4/1/10 → 11/30/12|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))