09 December 2017

Penk and colleagues, 2017

Penk M, Saul W-C, Dick JTA, Donohue I, Alexander ME, Linzmaier S, Jeschke JM. 2017. A trophic interaction framework for identifying the invasive capacity of novel organisms. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8(12): 1786–1794. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12817


1. The likelihood and impacts of invasions by novel organisms (e.g. non-native species, genetically-modified organisms) on the composition and functioning of receiving biological communities hinges on their capacity to exploit resources and/or avoid predation relative to resident counterparts. While assessment of invasion risk based on the comparison of functional responses (per-capita consumption rate as a function of resource density) of novel species with native analogues has been gaining popularity, it may be undermined if alternative prey and potential predators are not represented realistically.

2. Here, we propose a conceptual framework that enables rigorous identification of trophic traits conducive to invasion success by novel organisms – irrespective of their trophic position – and their likely ecological impacts, given their arrival and establishment. We focus on consumption here, but our framework can also be used for autotrophic energy acquisition, and extended to non-trophic and indirect interactions.

3. The framework enables a structured and prioritised selection of subsets of trophic links for invasion risk assessment. It is based on foraging theory and advances in comparative functional responses in invasion ecology. It can even be used in the absence of a resident comparator organism and when resources or predators are only partly known.

4. Our approach enhances the predictive power of species screening, and thus advances prevention and management of invasions under a common framework for all types of novel organisms.

Keywords: Alien species • dietary generalism • ecological novelty • GMO • invasion success • functional responses • predator-prey trophic interactions • risk assessment

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