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© Biodiversity Research Group

Projects on Invasive Species

Invasive species have detrimental effects on human health, the economy and native biodiversity. Our research in this area addresses gaps in scientific understanding of invasions  with a focus on vertebrates (mainly birds and mammals).

Invasive and native species interactions

Alien species are often studied within a single-species framework, focusing on the species ecology, distribution and impacts. However, species do not invade a vacuum. The actual outcomes of a species introduction and its impacts often depend on the alien species’ interactions with other native and non-native species. In our project, we are developing a spatially explicit database of invasive bird introductions, distribution and impacts across Australia. Using historical information, published books, papers, reports and atlas sources, we generated a spatially explicit, introduction event-based database of introduction records of birds in Australia. This allows us to examine spatial patterns of success and failure of multiple introductions across Australia and across groups, studying spatial and temporal trends.

We compare results for Australia with an earlier continental-scale study we led in Europe and the Mediterranean, aiming to disentangling the relative role of climatic, biotic and socioeconomic factors shaping invasion at a continental scale. Outcomes can help policy makers to more effectively mitigate biotic invasion threats, prioritise action and to spatially allocate actions and efforts. As a detailed case study, we are also examining the importance of species interactions in the establishment of the Indian myna and the effect of its interactions with other alien and native urban exploiters.

Project Aim

This study aims to address a major gap in our understanding of invasions by undertaking an examination of the role of interactions between bird species in determining the dynamics and outcomes of biological invasions. The project will integrate data on dispersal, demography, breeding and behavioral interactions into one framework to understand invasion processes. We will study the highly invasive Indian (common) myna, a bird pest from India, as a model system and aim to examine its interactions with others species and how these interactions and its breeding and movement (dispersal) affect its invasion success. This aims to provide information in determining future management of this highly detrimental avian pest, listed as one of the 100 worst invaders of all groups globally.

Download the project proposal.

Cavity nesting species

Project description coming soon.

Invasive mammals in Australia

Systematic Prioritisation of Action for Confronting Invasive Vertebrates in Australia

Biotic invasions threaten Australia’s biodiversity, economy and human health. This study will use novel decision support tools to generate the first systematic prioritisation protocol for confronting invasive vertebrates in Australia. Kark’s Future Fellowship project, funded by the ARC aims to build one of the first comprehensive databases of introduced birds in Australia and study the spatial and temporal patterns and the main factors shaping introduction success and failure, and to systematically prioritise management actions. This will be compared with previous work that we have led in Europe as part of the DAISIE EU consortium, in which the Biodiversity Research Group  led the avian component, We will also computer the bird data with information we are collecting about introductions of mammals across Australia.

Invasive species in the social context

Project description coming soon.

Selected Publications

The global distribution and drivers of alien bird species richnessAdobe_PDF_icon
Blackburn T, Gaston K, Jones K, Redding D, Orme D, Kark S, Franks V & Collen B (2017). PLoS Biology 15(1): e2000942; DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000942.
UQ News media release:

Space invaders; biological invasions in marine conservation planning
Giakoumi S, Guilhaumon F, Kark S, Terlizzi A, Claudet J, Felline S, Cerrano C, Coll M, Danovaro R, Fraschetti S, Koutsoubas D, Ledoux JB, Mazor T, Merigot B, Micheli F & Katsanevakis S (2016). Adobe_PDF_iconDiversity and Distributions, 22(12):1220-1231. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12491.

Nest-site competition by invasive cavity-nesting birds on native cavity-breeders and its implication for conservationAdobe_PDF_icon
Charter M, Izhaki I, Ben Mocha Y and Kark S (2016). Journal of Environmental Management, 181:129-134. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.06.021.

The complex interaction network among multiple invasive bird species in a cavity-nesting communityAdobe_PDF_icon
Orchan, Yotam, Chiron, François, Shwartz, Assaf and Kark, Salit (2013) The complex interaction network among multiple invasive bird species in a cavity-nesting community. Biological Invasions, 15 2: 429-445.

Tracking invasive birds: a programme for implementing dynamic open inquiry learning and conservation educationAdobe_PDF_icon
Zion, Michal, Spektor-Levy, Ornit, Orchan, Yotam, Shwartz, Assaf, Sadeh, Irit and Kark, Salit (2011) Tracking invasive birds: a programme for implementing dynamic open inquiry learning and conservation education. Journal of Biological Education, 45 1: 3-12.

Further publications on this topic can be found here..