Guilty as charged? Invasive species may not be that bad for biodiversity

Invasive species are accused of being one of the major causes of modern species extinctions and biodiversity loss, on par with climate change and habitat destruction. A few charismatic examples implicate invasive predators and disease in native species extinctions. For example, the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), introduced to Guam in 1952, is implicated in the extinction of 9 of the 11 forest bird species, 5 of which were endemic … Continue reading

Can Invaders Become Darwinian Demons?

There are two things I think are really cool and drive most of what I think about (well, I’ll pretend there are only two). The first is trade-offs. They’re pervasive in ecological and evolutionary thinking. The basic idea is that everybody is good at doing something, but also bad at doing something else. This comes into play in ecology because each species has its own little niche in the world, … Continue reading

Race to the Top: Shifting Ranges and Species Interactions

As temperatures increase with climate change, species are expected to expand their ranges to higher latitudes, where it will be warm enough for them to survive. Similarly, many species are predicted to move up in elevation as higher altitudes experience warmer temperatures—we know that some have already started to do so. But we also know that some species can shift their ranges in response to temperature change more quickly than … Continue reading

Consider the Ocean

A recent paper in Ecological Applications put a classic theory to the test, with a twist. The theory of island biogeography was one of the first conceptual frameworks to provide guidance for the conservation of biodiversity on a landscape scale. It’s pretty intuitive stuff. Changes in species diversity on ecological time scales (i.e., over decades) in any habitat are the result of colonizing species minus species extinctions. MacArthur and Wilson … Continue reading