New article highlights alternative perspectives on IAP

Journal article summary:

Facing the broader dimensions of biological invasions by Tassin and Kull (2015), published in Land Use Policy journal, Issue 42, pages 165-169.

Link to article: Facing the broader dimensions of biological invasions_Tassin and Kull_2015

The article points out that the concept of biological invasions poses tensions on what nature is and what it ought to be, and addressing these tensions requires policy makers to consider that the concept is dynamic and evolving.

Three facets of biological invasions are: their cultural dimension, their potentially positive environmental effects and the benefits they can provide in the context of global change.

1. Aesthetics play a major role in how invasive species are managed, with some species being underlined as ugly and annoying etc. They reiterate that some invasive species are not given management attention because of their attractiveness or usefulness. Different parts of the world have different cultural understandings of nature. The reliance of invasion biology science on words that are sourced from other fields, such as the military and medical, shows the cultural perspective. Examples of these shine through in the militant approaches taken locally: War on weeds, Invasive Alien Plants.

Image: Kenyan Villagers Turn Invasive Water Hyacinth into Moneymaker. Read more here: http://www.rainharvest.co.za/2011/03/kenyan-villagers-turn-invasive-water-hyacinth-into-moneymaker/
Image: Kenyan Villagers Turn Invasive Water Hyacinth into Moneymaker. Read more here.

2. Most studies do not usually give an indication of any positive ecological consequences that might arise from biological invasions, in a world where many natural conditions are already altered. Tassin and Kull mention that in some cases native species benefit from increase in resource availability, with some invasive species becoming food sources, creating habitat or protective structures or being useful in the control of problematic native species. For example: Some endangered bird species get fruit all year round in Australia from IAP.

3. The adaptive dimension of invasive species in the face of global changes can be considered as forming novel ecosystems which could lead to positive social and economic gains, such as invasive fruiting species like the Mango and Guava trees.

The authors mention that in conditions of climate and land cover change novel ecosystems resulting from plant invasions often maintaining certain critical ecosystem services such as productivity and carbon storage. The review paper concluded that while there is need to assert the negative consequences of biological invasions, there should also be efforts to look at the multi-facets of the consequences and think about the landscapes that society wants. The authors emphasize that, our world is already a biodiversity melting pot and that global change will make it more mixed, thus biological invasions should be addressed in all dimensions and without any “blind spots”.

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