Video: Surviving the onslaught of invasive species

December 6, 2017 by Robert Sanders, University of California - Berkeley

No place on the planet is truly isolated anymore, which means invasive species travel as easy as humans, hitchhiking on boats and planes with potentially devastating effects on the ecosystems they land in.

According to UC Berkeley insect ecologist Rosemary Gillespie, we are basically putting biodiversity in a blender and seeing what comes out.

Invasive non-native trees, for example, can silence forests once humming with bird and . Alien insects can take over, she said, as happened in Tahiti when an obnoxious pest ravaged trees to the extent that feces rained down on residents.

Gillespie, a professor of , policy and management and director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, studies islands to discover the secrets of a successful mix of species and clues about how to intervene when drop in to upset the balance.

"We want to see what makes a community stable to intrusion from outside," she said in May during a talk at the Cal Future Forum.

These islands are microcosms of larger ecosystems, she says, and can tell scientists how to take the pulse of larger ecosystems.

In her six-minute talk, Gillespie discussed the at play on islands and how what she learns could be applied more broadly.

Rosemary Gillespie, director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, searches for clues to what makes islands resilient to invasive species. Credit: University of California - Berkeley

Explore further: Invasive frogs give invasive birds a boost in Hawaii

Related Stories

Invasive frogs give invasive birds a boost in Hawaii

November 29, 2017

Puerto Rican coqui frogs were accidentally introduced to Hawaii in the 1980s, and today there are as many as 91,000 frogs per hectare in some locations. What does that mean for native wildlife? Concerns that ravenous coquis ...

Denial of invasive species threat worries scientists

November 24, 2016

Scientists believe a new battlefront is opening in science denialism and this time the target is the science of invasive alien species and the fight to protect some of the world's rarest species and most unique ecosystems.

Recommended for you

Researchers isolate parvovirus from ancient human remains

July 13, 2018

Airborne and bloodborne human parvovirus B19 causes a number of illnesses, including the childhood rash known as fifth disease, chronic anemia in AIDS patients, arthritis in elderly people, aplastic crisis in people with ...

Finding the proteins that unpack DNA

July 12, 2018

A new method allows researchers to systematically identify specialized proteins that unpack DNA inside the nucleus of a cell, making the usually dense DNA more accessible for gene expression and other functions. The method, ...

0 comments

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.