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      On the RIP: using Relative Impact Potential to assess the ecological impacts of invasive alien species

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          Abstract

          Invasive alien species continue to arrive in new locations with no abatement in rate, and thus greater predictive powers surrounding their ecological impacts are required. In particular, we need improved means of quantifying the ecological impacts of new invasive species under different contexts. Here, we develop a suite of metrics based upon the novel Relative Impact Potential (RIP) metric, combining the functional response (consumer per capita effect), with proxies for the numerical response (consumer population response), providing quantification of invasive species ecological impact. These metrics are comparative in relation to the eco-evolutionary baseline of trophically analogous natives, as well as other invasive species and across multiple populations. Crucially, the metrics also reveal how impacts of invasive species change under abiotic and biotic contexts. While studies focused solely on functional responses have been successful in predictive invasion ecology, RIP retains these advantages while adding vital other predictive elements, principally consumer abundance. RIP can also be combined with propagule pressure to quantify overall invasion risk. By highlighting functional response and numerical response proxies, we outline a user-friendly method for assessing the impacts of invaders of all trophic levels and taxonomic groups. We apply the metric to impact assessment in the face of climate change by taking account of both changing predator consumption rates and prey reproduction rates. We proceed to outline the application of RIP to assess biotic resistance against incoming invasive species, the effect of evolution on invasive species impacts, application to interspecific competition, changing spatio-temporal patterns of invasion, and how RIP can inform biological control. We propose that RIP provides scientists and practitioners with a user-friendly, customisable and, crucially, powerful technique to inform invasive species policy and management.

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          Most cited references 104

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          Shifts in phenology due to global climate change: the need for a yardstick.

          Climate change has led to shifts in phenology in many species distributed widely across taxonomic groups. It is, however, unclear how we should interpret these shifts without some sort of a yardstick: a measure that will reflect how much a species should be shifting to match the change in its environment caused by climate change. Here, we assume that the shift in the phenology of a species' food abundance is, by a first approximation, an appropriate yardstick. We review the few examples that are available, ranging from birds to marine plankton. In almost all of these examples, the phenology of the focal species shifts either too little (five out of 11) or too much (three out of 11) compared to the yardstick. Thus, many species are becoming mistimed due to climate change. We urge researchers with long-term datasets on phenology to link their data with those that may serve as a yardstick, because documentation of the incidence of climate change-induced mistiming is crucial in assessing the impact of global climate change on the natural world.
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            Invasion and the evolution of speed in toads.

            Cane toads (Bufo marinus) are large anurans (weighing up to 2 kg) that were introduced to Australia 70 years ago to control insect pests in sugar-cane fields. But the result has been disastrous because the toads are toxic and highly invasive. Here we show that the annual rate of progress of the toad invasion front has increased about fivefold since the toads first arrived; we find that toads with longer legs can not only move faster and are the first to arrive in new areas, but also that those at the front have longer legs than toads in older (long-established) populations. The disaster looks set to turn into an ecological nightmare because of the negative effects invasive species can have on native ecosystems; over many generations, rates of invasion will be accelerated owing to rapid adaptive change in the invader, with continual 'spatial selection' at the expanding front favouring traits that increase the toads' dispersal.
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              Interactive effects of habitat modification and species invasion on native species decline.

              Different components of global environmental change are often studied and managed independently, but mounting evidence points towards complex non-additive interaction effects between drivers of native species decline. Using the example of interactions between land-use change and biotic exchange, we develop an interpretive framework that will enable global change researchers to identify and discriminate between major interaction pathways. We formalise a distinction between numerically mediated versus functionally moderated causal pathways. Despite superficial similarity of their effects, numerical and functional pathways stem from fundamentally different mechanisms of action and have fundamentally different consequences for conservation management. Our framework is a first step toward building a better quantitative understanding of how interactions between drivers might mitigate or exacerbate the net effects of global environmental change on biotic communities in the future.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NeoBiota
                NB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2488
                1619-0033
                April 03 2020
                April 03 2020
                : 55
                : 27-60
                Article
                10.3897/neobiota.55.49547
                © 2020

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