Invasive species are likely to spread to a community that has not adapted to climate change

February 19, 2019, University of Jyväskylä
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Invasive species are those that spread to new areas as a result of human activity and can displace local species and present threats to forestry and agriculture. Laboratory experiments indicate that alien species are most likely to invade under varying environmental conditions. The risk of invasions will increase further if the local species community has not adapted to the variation.

"It is very difficult to study and test species adaptation in , because adapting to different environments takes time. This is why we decided to use bacteria as a test species. Conditions during invasion are easily manipulated, and we can also create strains of bacteria that have or have not adapted to . This versatility of the system gives us possibility to study different sorts of theoretical scenarios of invasions very efficiently. In the wild, such phenomena are nearly impossible to study in detail," says academy research fellow Tarmo Ketola from the University of Jyväskylä.

Although experiments done in the lab are a simplification of natural processes, this experiment shows that increased variation can lead to increased problems with invasive species. Communities that are poorly adapted to the changes are more susceptible to the spread of invasive species, especially if their habitat changes significantly at the same time. Earlier research emphasized the importance of adaptation of in dictating the spread to the new areas. This research is the first to show that it is also important how well the community has adapted to prevailing environmental conditions.

The research has been published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Explore further: New tool to predict which plants will become invasive

More information: Kati Saarinen et al. Invasion triple trouble: environmental fluctuations, fluctuation-adapted invaders and fluctuation-mal-adapted communities all govern invasion success, BMC Evolutionary Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1186/s12862-019-1348-9

Related Stories

New tool to predict which plants will become invasive

November 8, 2018

Around the world, over 13,000 plant species have embedded themselves in new environments—some of them integrate with the native plants, but others spread aggressively. Understanding why some plants become invasive, while ...

Using AI to manage Canada's invasive species

May 8, 2018

New University of Alberta research on managing aquatic invasive species in Canada combines the power of machine learning with expertise in biology and statistics to build a simple, easy-to-use tool for environmental managers.

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...


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.