Climate Research: Climate Change and Invasive Species Introduction

New research demonstrates how field work and climate change mitigation can lend a hand to ecosystem resiliency and conservation.

Building ecosystem resiliency on islands is a crucial aspect of protecting the biodiversity contained within these wild places from both climate change as well as invasive species. There have been many climate studies that have explored these topics in detail. In fact, a study carried out by the University of Jyväskylä – Jyväskylän Yliopisto demonstrates new approaches that are being used to better understand how invasive species might act in the wild in the face of climate change.

Environmental changes, including climate change, may cause an increased strain on species also experiencing the impacts of an invasive species introduction. In conducting the study, the researchers chose to use bacteria to determine how species might respond to an invasion. This proved useful as it is a formidable undertaking to study such phenomena in the wild. Academy research fellow Tarmo Ketola from the University of Jyvaskyla commented:

Conditions during invasion are easily manipulated and we can also create strains of bacteria that have or have not adapted to environmental conditions. This versality of the system gives us possibility to study different sorts of theoretical scenarios of invasions very efficiently.”

The experiment demonstrates that when a non-native species are introduced to an ecosystem that is already impacted by climate change, they are more likely to spread rampantly and cause tremendous harm. This study is one of the first to demonstrate this link between climate change and the impact of invasive species introduction.

The Palau Field Team. Credit: Island Conservation

Inversely, ecosystems are more readily able to adapt to climate change when invasive species are not present. Why? Because invasive species, once introduced, impact the health of native species, forest systems and coastal waters. Further, they pose a threat to the livelihoods of the human inhabitants of these areas through the transmission of disease and by making it more difficult to grow certain crops. Adapting to climate change is even more challenging under these conditions.  However, restoration based field work can make it easier for species to adapt to changes.

Field work on Lehua Island. Credit: Island Conservation

This research illustrates that further efforts in climate research are integral to better understanding ecosystem health. Further, not only is work to address and lower CO2 emissions critical, but the removal of invasive species in areas they have been introduced can help increase ecosystem resiliency. The groundbreaking work conducted at University of Jyväskylä – Jyväskylän Yliopisto can help guide future conservation research which will provide a bright future for native ecosystems and humans alike. 

Source: EurekAlert
Featured Photo: Restoration crew on Antipodes Island. Credit: Island Conservation

About Stephanie Dittrich

Stephanie Dittrich is a current senior in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz and a transfer student from De Anza College. She is also currently pursuing a Certificate of Achievement in Geospatial Technologies and a second Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Foothill College. She has worked in multiple marketing and design focused roles at environmental nonprofits as well as the Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz. She just finished spending 3 months in Costa Rica conducting field work where she did an independent research project and wrote a scientific paper about flight response time in the Morpho peleides butterfly. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys working on creative photography and design projects, often centered around wildlife photography, as well as more experimental and contemporary subject matter.

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