Tuesday 20th March, E0.05, John Dalton East Building, from 1.00-2.00pm.
Invasive Plant Species: Impacts on Critical Ecosystem Processes
Dr Lindsay Banin, University of Ulster
Invasion by exotic species has been identified as one of the greatest agents of environmental change and threats to biodiversity loss. At small spatial scales in particular, invasive plant species often substantially alter the community and physical structure of vegetation. Riparian habitats are especially prone to plant invasions as they tend to be disturbed, nutrient-rich environments and the water provides a vector of transport for seeds and tissues capable of regeneration. In the British Isles, three herbaceous species, Fallopia japonica, Heracleum mantegazzium, and Impatiens glandulifera, have spread rapidly along water courses and posed a significant and costly management problem.
Considerable research effort has focussed on predicting which species might be invasive, which communities might be vulnerable, and the effects of invasion on diversity of plants and other taxa. The impacts of plant invasion on critical ecosystem processes, for example nutrient and carbon cycling, also warrant attention: to what extent do these community changes engender shifts in ecosystem functioning? There is also a lack of understanding of the mechanisms by which plants exclude their native counterparts in a given habitat, which impedes our ability to rehabilitate invaded communities. Our research, part of the EU-funded CIRB (Controlling Priority Invasive Species and Restoring Native Biodiversity) project, seeks to identify some of these impacts and mechanisms to enable better management of these systems, and in the talk I present our preliminary findings.
*This is the last seminar of the Spring 2012 series. If you wish to receive seminar abstracts each week by e-mail in the next series (starting October 2012), please ask to be added to the EGS Seminar Mailing List by contacting Daphne Lai at D.Lai@mmu.ac.uk. Thanks.
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