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The potential for upward range expansion of alien plant species in cold-climate mountains in a warming world.

This proposal explores the future of biological invasions by alien plant species in cold-climate mountain ecosystems. With a combination of observational, experimental and modelling techniques we identify the mechanisms that enable high-risk alien species to expand their range and disrupt local ecosystems in a warming climate. We propose an integrative, dynamic and mechanistic approach to tackle this question, by solving three timely methodological issues in alien species distribution assessments: 1) evolving towards the dynamic modelling of species ranges over time, 2), accounting for plant microclimate in both models and experiments, and 3) better integration of observations and experiments on the drivers behind species invasions in cold climates. Together these methodological advances will help us disentangle the role of several candidate mechanisms that define the current and future elevational limit of the focal species, including among others the temperature dependence of reproduction, the use of warm spots in the environment as stepping stones for dispersal, and the co-invasion of and interaction with mycorrhizal symbionts. The study is fundamental but at the same time allows one to assess which management measures might be feasible to control alien plant invasions in pristine cold regions
Date:1 Jan 2019 →  Today
Disciplines:Invasion biology, Plant ecology