University of Cambridge > > Ecology Lunchtime Series > Modelling the distribution of Freshwater Invasive Species across Europe

Modelling the distribution of Freshwater Invasive Species across Europe

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Belinda Gallardo.

Invasive species are recognised as one of the main drivers of biodiversity change in freshwater ecosystems. Consequently, the development of reliable tools to prevent and control the spread of freshwater invasive species is necessary to identify and protect areas at high risk of invasion, to effectively manage invasive species and to conserve native populations. Species distribution models (SDMs) provide a measure of climate suitability for invasive species by projecting a model of known distribution into a geographical area of interest. As such they are a powerful tool to forecast the spread of invasive species in a changing climate. However, more than 90% of the published SDMs focus on terrestrial species, while aquatic species remains poorly documented. In this talk, three case studies focusing on important aquatic pests, as the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), the killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) and the signal crayfish (Pascifastacus leniusculus) will illustrate how SDMs can: (i) test hypotheses relating niche dynamics in freshwater invasive species, (ii) locate areas most susceptible to first introduction, (iii) provide a basis for freshwater invasive species management and eradication, and (iv) anticipate future changes in the species’ geographical range. However, limitations of the models (such as lack of surrogates of water chemistry, unrealistic ecological assumptions, uncertainties in the selection of predictors and scenarios) have to be carefully considered. For instance, the combination of SDMs with other local-scale models, the so called “hybrid models”, can overcome some of these limitations. Ultimately, SDMs provide a powerful tool for the prevention, control and eradication of aquatic invasive species that is worth to develop further.

This talk is part of the Ecology Lunchtime Series series.

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