Biodiversity Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (2): 253-255.doi: 10.17520/biods.2020008

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Biological invasions: Are their impacts precisely knowable or not?

Weiming He()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2020-01-08 Accepted:2020-02-20 Online:2020-03-31
  • Weiming He

Biological invasions are ubiquitous worldwide and have demonstrable negative impacts (e.g., rapid biodiversity losses, substantial economic losses, decreased ecosystem services, and irreversible environmental damage). Quantifying the impacts of biological invasions is among the core questions in invasion biology, and also a practical issue in ecosystem management. Existing approaches have two serious shortcomings: (1) the absence of true controls and (2) the presence of confounding non-invasion effects. These approaches, therefore, cannot precisely quantify the impacts of biological invasions in the field. Here, I explicitly highlight these long-overlooked drawbacks when quantifying invasion impacts, and propose two potential solutions: (1) creating true controls at the beginning of studies and (2) considering a “synchronous control” over the course of an experiment. These solutions might help us to precisely understand the impacts of biological invasions.

Key words: assessing approaches, biological invasions, invasion impacts, true control, synchronous control

Fig. 1

Graphic illustration of quantifying biological invasion impacts (left panel), and the related comparisons of plant community similarity coefficients between sites (right panel). At the left panel, single arrows indicate a shift of sites from t0 to t1, double arrows indicate a comparison between two sites, and solid lines indicate a question about whether two sites are substitutable. C: Comparison; Q: Question. At the right panel, different letters demonstrate a significant difference in similarity coefficients between 1 m × 1 m quadrats and 10 m × 10 m quadrats at the P < 0.05 level."

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