11 December 2015 | By John Measey
In recent years there has been a growing interest in the use of functional responses (FRs) as a tool in invasion ecology. Therefore to coincide with the gathering of a number of key scientists for the Annual Research Meeting of the Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B), a workshop was held that focussed on the current applications of FRs and their future use in understanding, determining and predicting impact of non-native species.
The workshop, supported by the C·I·B and organised by visiting C·I·B research fellows James Vonesh (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Mike McCoy (East Carolina University), former C·I·B postdoc Mhairi Alexander (University of the West of Scotland) and C·I·B senior researcher John Measey, was held on the 9th-10th November at Stellenbosch University. The workshop was attended by a total of 25 delegates that comprised national and international academics and researchers from the field of invasion biology. A range of aquatic and terrestrial systems were represented with expertise in empirical and theoretical aspects of the FR approach.
With biological invasions occurring at an ever increasing rate, effective and robust measures to better understand processes and inform management are required and the use of FRs has been shown as a useful tool in this regard. As methodologies are progressing rapidly it was an excellent time for synthesis, and, discussions were held under three main themes: (1) foundations of functional responses and their current use in invasion biology; (2) how species traits influence functional responses; (3) extending the framework to populations and communities.
The ensuing discussions were very productive with a number of outputs identified that would help synthesise the pre-existing literature and provide a base for moving the field forward. Furthermore the interaction of researchers at the workshop with common interests in FRs has set the stage for development of ideas and international collaborations moving into the future.