Aims & approach

The fundamental aim of AlienImpacts is to develop an approach for accurately predicting impacts of alien plants on floristic diversity, and to identify the circumstances under which negative impacts will occur. AlienImpacts will achieve this goal by coupling empirical and theoretical approaches to develop mechanistic models that predict impacts of alien plants on plant community diversity. 

Using temperate grasslands as a model system, AlienImpacts has three key objectives: 

  1. Characterise the cause-effect relationships associated with the principal causes and mechanisms of invasion impact, and how they vary depending on context. 
  2. Quantify the proportion of alien plant species that have higher ecological fitness than co-occurring native species, the magnitude of that fitness advantage, and how long it lasts. 
  3. Develop new models, and a modelling approach, to predict the establishment and abundance of invading plant species in a site, and the resulting impact on plant community diversity. 

Objectives and related work packages of AlienImpacts, resulting in three major deliverables. Empirical WP are shown in yellow boxes; theoretical WP in pink boxes. 

AlienImpacts comprises five work packages (WP).

WP1-3 will address Objectives 1 and 2 by using empirical data to: systematically characterise cause-effect relationships of five major pathways of invasion biodiversity impact under a range of conditions; and quantify the prevalence, magnitude and duration of alien plant species’ fitness advantages, vis-à-vis co-occurring native plants, at a global scale. The field experiments of WP1 will also be used to parameterise and test the theoretical and predictive models of WP4 & 5. 

Addressing Objective 3, WP4 & 5 will use theoretical approaches to: advance fundamental theory about alien plant invasions, and thus understanding of community ecology in the Anthropocene; and develop robust predictive models of impacts of alien plant invasion on community plant diversity, validated using empirical data from temperate grasslands in North America, Europe and Australia. 

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