The ecology of invasive species
Lupins- -420x315
Project details

Chief Investigators:

Professor R Frankham

Associate Professor  A Moles

Associate Professor  W Sherwin

 

Introduced species provide a fascinating system for studying the way plants adapt to life in a new environment. We are measuring changes in form, function and genetic make-up of introduced species since their arrival in Australia, New Zealand and England. Work by students in the Big Ecology Lab, especially Joanna Buswell (MSc; Buswell et al. 2011), Rhiannon Dalrymple (BSc hons) and Habacuc Flores (PhD student), suggests that most plant species undergo significant and substantial changes in at least one morphological trait when they are introduced to a new country. Quantifying the rate and direction of evolution will increase our understanding of the invasion process, and help us estimate how quickly plants might be able to adapt to future climate change. Work from the Big Ecology Lab is also testing long-held assumptions about the role of disturbance in invasion (Moles et al. 2012), and the advantages of introduced species (Flores-Moreno et al 2013). Claire Brandenburger (PhD student) is asking whether populations of introduced plants are becoming reproductively isolated from populations of the species in their native range. As I explained in a TEDxSydney talk, I think that introduced species are on their way to becoming new native Australian taxa.