Threatened or invasive? Species' fates identified

Jun 13, 2008

A new ecological study led by a University of Adelaide researcher should help identify species prone to extinction under environmental change, and species that are likely to become a pest.

The study, the first of its kind, was published this week online in the British Ecological Society's prestigious Journal of Ecology.

"This study provides good evidence that we can take any group of species and predict how individual species will respond to changes in the environment through events such as climate change or habitat loss," says lead author Associate Professor Corey Bradshaw, from the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The researchers analysed life-history and ecological traits in more than 8900 species of the legume, or the Fabaceae plant family, and found a correlation between evolved species' traits and a particular susceptibility to a species becoming threatened or invasive.

"The urgency and scale of the global biodiversity crisis means we need good generalised predictors of a species' likelihood of going extinct or becoming invasive in non-native areas," says Associate Professor Bradshaw.

"Previous studies have been limited by studying one or other of these 'fates' in isolation.

"Developing evidence-based rules of thumb for categorising poorly studied species according to their susceptibility will aid decision makers in choosing best ways to allocate finite conservation resources."

Lists of 'species to watch' - both threatened and potentially invasive - should be expanded based on ranking of 'susceptibility traits', Associate Professor Bradshaw says. Associate Professor Bradshaw is also employed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute as a senior scientist.

"Our results are particularly valuable where there is sustained habitat loss or fragmentation, especially given the predictions that climate change will simultaneously promote the expansion of invasive alien species and greater extinction rates in others," he says.

Source: University of Adelaide

Explore further: Researchers discover 'milk' protein that enables survival of the species

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fighting invasive species in Michigan's lakes

Feb 25, 2015

Everyone knows that clean water is important. But for the state of Michigan, surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes, it is absolutely essential—to the economy and the environment. That's why the research being done ...

Conserving for nature's sake or our own?

Feb 20, 2015

The value of nature in conservation may seem simple, straightforward and fundamental. Yet a persistent question arises: Should we conserve nature only for humans or also for its own sake as well?

Recommended for you

Genetically speaking, mammals are more like their fathers

51 minutes ago

You might resemble or act more like your mother, but a novel research study from UNC School of Medicine researchers reveals that mammals are genetically more like their dads. Specifically, the research shows ...

Conservation organizations need to keep up with nature

1 hour ago

Nature is on the move. As the impacts of climate change reveal themselves, species and ecosystems are moving in response. This poses a fundamental challenge to conservation organizations—how do you conserve ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.