Senior Editor, Martin A. Nuñez, introduces November’s Editor’s Choice article by Cadotte and colleagues, which proposes a novel application of invasion biology in an urban environment.
Biological invasions are a big problem for the economy, environment, and human health. As a result, there exists a deep theoretical framework that has developed over the last four decades, fueled by data from numerous invasive species across the planet.
In this paper, Cadotte et al. use this theoretical framework in a novel way – not to help control invasive species, but to promote the invasion of desirable species. Their work suggests that this approach could be applied to any ecosystem where we want specific species to succeed.
There are many theoretical descriptions of the mechanisms that facilitate invasions. The authors highlight five of the most commonly referenced hypotheses which they argue could represent valuable management tools for increasing native biodiversity in novel landscapes – these include the Resource Fluctuation Hypothesis, Enemy Release Hypothesis, Novel Weapons Hypothesis, Invasional Meltdown Hypothesis and the Propagule Pressure Hypothesis (see figure below for more details on each).
I love the central message of this paper: that the mechanisms that can make an invasive species invade, may be the same that can make any species colonize a novel environment, such as urban areas.
I hope researchers and practitioners alike will utilise this approach so that we can start developing a deeper understanding of what makes species successful, and at the same time help us limit the spread of invasive species and promote native biodiversity.
The full paper Invasion theory as a management tool for increasing native biodiversity in urban ecosystems is free-to-read for a limited time in Journal of Applied Ecology.