Elizabeta Briski - Invasion Ecology Group


As the rate of species invasions increases globally, it is essential to determine the origins and transport vectors that have facilitated their range expansions. Accurate identification of the source populations and associated transport vectors enables development of management strategies and prevention of new invasions. It also allows the formation and testing of hypotheses related to fundamental tenets of invasion ecology - importance of genetic diversity, hybridization, or enemy release as mechanisms underlying invasion success. In many cases, non-indigenous species undergo major habitat transitions and so understanding genetic and phenotypic responses can shed new light on the ability of colonizing species to adapt rapidly during range expansions. Given the widespread native ranges of many non-indigenous species, coupled with the difficulty involved using traditional taxonomy for their identification, phylogeographic studies and molecular identification of species can be of benefit in tackling many of the above problems.

Resistance to multiple stressors facilitates establishment of non-indigenous species in new habitats. The same resistance may enable species to survive in habitats highly affected by global warming (e.g., increased temperature, often heat-waves, elevated pCO2, and lowered pH) and other anthropogenic stressors. Consequently, non-indigenous species may be predisposed to flourish in the future global change scenarios, while species proved tolerant to changes connected with anthropogenic activities may become non-indigenous species in the future, leading to further homogenization of taxa globally. Therefore, concurrent research on non-indigenous species and global change due to anthropogenic activities are of great importance.

We are interested in a broad variety of questions pertaining to invasion biology and global change ecology. Our current work focuses on examining if species from particular regions (e.g., Ponto-Caspian area) have inherent advantages over other species in colonizing new areas. Our research also covers community dynamics of taxa during the transport stage of invasion process, and in particular, changes in propagule and colonization pressures of invertebrates and phytoplankton transported in ships’ ballast tanks. This work also leads to an interest in the natural dispersal of aquatic organisms and genetic mechanisms underlying adaptive responses of these organisms to novel environments and stressors.


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