Climate change, soil degradation and the need of alternative energy sources are main challenges at the beginning of the 21stcentury. Exotic plant species are introduced on purpose for wood production, CO2 sequestration and soil amelioration. Some of these exotics spread out without control and are able to facilitate their invasion into native ecosystems by altering habitat properties. These so-called “invasive ecosystem engineers” can become a threat to biodiversity, ecosystem function and human health. The processes of biological invasions, their impacts on native ecosystems on different temporal and spatial scales, and the invasibility of different ecosystems are still not well understood. The aim of the INSPECTED.NET project is to set up a multi-skilled, international group of experts in biological invasions that will add on to existing programmes like the European-based DAISIE or the global invasive species programme (GISP). As a model, we will examine the invasion by the ecosystem engineer Acacia longifolia applying the latest methods in vegetation ecology including stable isotope analysis and remote sensing. Studies will be carried out at multiple spatial scales and at different stages of invasions in Portugal and Brazil. As a result, we want to develop a set of tools to evaluate and control biological invasions, and to contribute to current methods of risk assessment. We will extend our network with more experts in Acacia longifolia invasions worldwide.
We will integrate the results of our research in our teaching to increase knowledge and raise awareness of exotic species and their risk assessment together with active multipliers such as public and educational bodies, institutions of nature conservation and forestry, and people involved in habitat restoration and sustainable land use, especially considering global change and the challenges of fertile land loss, soil degradation and desertification.
FP7-PEOPLE-2010-IRSES Marie Curie Action "International Research Staff Exchange Scheme".
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster; Universitaet Bielefeld; Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FFCUL); Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV).