THE ASICS PROJECT:
Understanding invasive species in polar and alpine environments
9th February 2021
PhD position on modelling biological invasions in sub-Antarctic regions at the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna.
Application deadline 18.02.2021
23rd September 2020
'We are very happy to announce that our ASICS project has been proposed for funding by the Biodiversa scientific council; we are looking forward to start working together on the project!
Species physiology & adaptation to climate change
Impact for community & ecosystem functioning
Identify future invaders & invasion dynamics
Providing tools for environmental management & policy makers
Understanding invasive species in polar and alpine regions
In these times of rapidly accelerating global changes, our world’s biodiversity is trying to adapt. For many species, this means adjusting their life cycle, interactions and distributions as a reaction to the occurring changes of their habitats, e.g. changes in habitat characteristics, pollution, biological invasions and climate change. Altogether, these rapid changes are creating extra pressures on the native communities already struggling with local changes. Two areas particularly vulnerable to these dynamics are the poles and alpine regions, which host most of the world’s last remaining wilderness ecosystems. These ecosystems are disproportionately affected by climate change, and thus suffer from an increased influx of new species originating from more warm regions of the globe. Due to the poles’ high and largely undisturbed native diversity, these regions provide huge opportunities for science, recreation and spirituality. It is imperative that these outstanding ecosystems are preserved as they comprise a role model for the wellbeing of the planet.
Invasive species in polar and alpine regions
The effects of global change and the increased global connectivity facilitate the arrival and establishment of new species to cold environments. A growing number of non-indigenous invertebrates, plants and vertebrate species have now colonized these environments, profiting from increased human-related disturbances. They are increasingly outcompeting indigenous species thanks to their life strategies adapted to opportunistic change, disturbances and warmer climates. Yet, despite the fact that we might be on a crucial moment in time to save this unique cold-climate biodiversity, we have a much more limited understanding of the extent and impacts of both climate-related range shifts and biological invasions in cold than in temperate regions. Studying and managing such events is needed to assist strategic thinking to tackle the ongoing biodiversity crisis.
Modelling & forecasting change
In this project, we aim to significantly improve our understanding of the effects of climate change on the distribution of non-indigenous and native species, their interaction over time, and in turn, the effects on community structure. To achieve this, we will use a broad array of cutting-edge modelling techniques, and unseen time series of species occurrence and climate data spanning several decades, and experimental understanding of species reactions to climate. Ultimately, we aim for accurate and trustworthy forecasting of future dynamics that can allow us to anticipate the extent and cost of species redistributions in our precious cold regions, and develop strategies to prevent such changes. In a world where changes are almost unstoppable, being able to anticipate them gives valuable knowledge to pre-emptively prevent, mitigate and/or be prepared for the negative effects of biological invasion processes.