Perspective

AMBIO

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 527-540

First online:

Conceptual Frameworks and Methods for Advancing Invasion Ecology

  • Tina HegerAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis Email author 
  • , Anna T. PahlAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)
  • , Zoltan Botta-DukátAffiliated withInstitute of Ecology and Botany, MTA Centre for Ecological Research
  • , Francesca GherardiAffiliated withDepartment of Evolutionary Biology „Leo Pardi“, University of Florence
  • , Christina HoppeAffiliated withInstitute of Ecology, Evolution & Diversity, Plant Ecology, Goethe University of Frankfurt
  • , Ivan HosteAffiliated withNational Botanic Garden of Belgium
  • , Kurt JaxAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)Department of Conservation Biology, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
  • , Leena LindströmAffiliated withDepartment of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä
  • , Pieter BoetsAffiliated withLaboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University
    • , Sylvia HaiderAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)Institute of Biology, Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
    • , Johannes KollmannAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)
    • , Meike J. WittmannAffiliated withDepartment of Biology II, Ecology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
    • , Jonathan M. JeschkeAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Restoration Ecology, Technische Universität München (TUM)Department of Biology II, Ecology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University MunichCary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

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Abstract

Invasion ecology has much advanced since its early beginnings. Nevertheless, explanation, prediction, and management of biological invasions remain difficult. We argue that progress in invasion research can be accelerated by, first, pointing out difficulties this field is currently facing and, second, looking for measures to overcome them. We see basic and applied research in invasion ecology confronted with difficulties arising from (A) societal issues, e.g., disparate perceptions of invasive species; (B) the peculiarity of the invasion process, e.g., its complexity and context dependency; and (C) the scientific methodology, e.g., imprecise hypotheses. To overcome these difficulties, we propose three key measures: (1) a checklist for definitions to encourage explicit definitions; (2) implementation of a hierarchy of hypotheses (HoH), where general hypotheses branch into specific and precisely testable hypotheses; and (3) platforms for improved communication. These measures may significantly increase conceptual clarity and enhance communication, thus advancing invasion ecology.

Keywords

Communication platforms Definitions and terminology Hierarchy of hypotheses Invasive alien species Synthesis Transdisciplinarity