Impacts of Biological Invasions

Tuesday 8 August 2017
12.00pm to 2.00pm

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A global analysis of the ecological effects of alien plants on native species and ecosystems

This event is run in association with the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer and the association of Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific (SRAP) in collaboration with the Spanish Consulate and the Instituto Cervantes.

Prof Montserrat Vilà, research professor at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC) in Seville (Spain) will give a presentation on the impacts of biological invasions with special emphasis on a global analysis of the ecological effects of alien plants on native species and ecosystems in the introduced range. The talk will also describe how impacts are quantified, as well some ways to conduct risk analysis of invasion in Europe.

Biological invasions occur when species are introduced by humans beyond their natural dispersal ranges, establishing and spreading in a region. Indeed, many introduced species are more competitive than native species, they might escape from natural enemies, and modify the environment. Some impacts can even affect socioeconomic sectors such as forestry, agriculture or public health. From the management and policy perspective it is important to identify which invasive species are causing, or have the potential to cause, major impacts.

A panel of experts, will lead an insightful discussion with Prof Vila on the impacts of biological invasions in the Australian context.

Prof Rick Shine, Australian Research Council
Prof Peter Banks, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney
Dr Ros Gloag, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Montserrat Vilà is research professor in ecology at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC) in Seville (Spain). She did her PhD at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain, and a Postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focus on the ecology of introduced species, how they became biological invasions, and the implications for nature protection. She has published 150 ISI papers and 40 book chapters. In collaboration with Prof PE Hulme she has just edited a book on the impacts of biological invasions on ecosystem services emphasising that managing introduced species requires the interlink between environmental and socioeconomic sectors. She is a member of the Scientific Forum for the EU Regulation on invasive species and president of the European Working Group on Biological Invasions (NEOBIOTA). She is among the top 1% researchers for most cited documents in the Ecology/Environment field for 2014 and 2015.

Prof Rick Shine is a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council, and a Professor of Biology at the University of Sydney. He has published more than 1,000 scientific papers, that have been cited more than 45,000 times. His primary research focus has been on the ecology and conservation of snakes all around the world, his most extensive work, however, has been on the snakes of Australia – especially, of the tropical Northern Territory. Rick has spear-headed a major research initiative on the biology, impact and control of invasive cane toads in Australia. The major thrust of his current research involves approaching conservation challenges from an evolutionary perspective, and embedded within a detailed understanding of reptile and amphibian biology. In 2016 he was awarded the top prizes for scientific research both in New South Wales (NSW Scientist of the Year) and Australia (Prime Minister’s Prize for Science).

Prof Peter Banks is a Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Sydney. His research interests are in ecologically-based management of pest species. He has conducted field experiments on the impacts of invasive species such as foxes, rats, cats and dogs in Australia and invasive American mink in Finland. His approach is to understand the behavioural ecology processes in order to develop novel, non invasive solutions to controlling the impacts of pest species.

Dr Ros Gloag is a Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology within the School of Life and Environmental Science. Her research focuses on the evolution, ecology and genetics of reproductive behaviour in various taxa, including birds and insects. Recently, she has collaborated with Queensland Biosecurity to investigate the factors driving the success of invasive honey bee populations in Far North Queensland and to understand the impact of these bees on both Australia’s native pollinators and our apiculture industry.