Biotic resistance to exotic invasions: its role in forest ecosystems, confounding artifacts, and future directions

Abstract

Biotic resistance, the ability of communities to resist exotic invasions, has long attracted interest in the research and management communities. However, inconsistencies exist in various biotic resistance studies and less is known about the current status and knowledge gaps of biotic resistance in forest ecosystems. In this paper, we provide a brief review of the history and mechanisms of the biotic resistance hypothesis, and summarize the central topics and knowledge gaps related to biotic resistance with a special emphasis on forest ecosystems. Overall, although the amount of research efforts on biotic resistance in forest ecosystems has increased since the mid-2000s, aspects such as resistance to exotic pests and pathogens remain understudied. In addition, we synthesize ecological and statistical explanations of observed inconsistencies and provide suggestions for future research directions. Some of the observed inconsistencies on biotic resistance can be attributed to (1) the interactive or additive effects of other ecological processes and (2) the statistical artifacts of modifiable areal unit problem. With the advancement of new statistical knowledge and tools, along with availability of big data, biotic resistance research can be greatly improved with the simultaneous consideration of key ecological processes, the attention to various scales involved, and the addition of understudied systems.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments improved our original manuscript. This work was partially supported by National Science Foundation Macrosystems Biology (Grant No. 1241932 and 1638702).

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Correspondence to Songlin Fei.

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Guest Editors: Andrew Liebhold, Eckehard Brockerhoff and Martin Nuñez / Special issue on Biological Invasions in Forests prepared by a task force of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

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Nunez-Mir, G.C., Liebhold, A.M., Guo, Q. et al. Biotic resistance to exotic invasions: its role in forest ecosystems, confounding artifacts, and future directions. Biol Invasions 19, 3287–3299 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1413-5

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Keywords

  • Competition
  • Facilitation
  • Modifiable area unit problem
  • Pests
  • Pathogens