Climate change increases environmental fluctuations and extreme weather phenomena. They generate many kinds of problems in the nature. A study conducted at the University of Jyvaskyla has shown that varying environmental conditions increase the potential for invasive species to spread.
Invasive species are species that spread to new areas as a result of human activity and can displace local species and be harmful in addition to nature also to forestry and agriculture.
Laboratory experiment indicated that alien species are most likely to invade under varying environmental conditions. The risk of invasions will increase further if the local species community has not adapted to the variation.
"It is very difficult to study and test species adaptation in natural populations, because adapting to different environments takes time. This is why we decided to use bacteria as a test species. Conditions during invasion are easily manipulated and we can also create strains of bacteria that have or have not adapted to environmental conditions. This versality of the system gives us possiblity to study different sorts of theoretical scenarios of invasions very efficiently. In the wild such phenomena are nearly impossible to study in detail" says academy research fellow Tarmo Ketola from the University of Jyvaskyla.
Although, experiments done in a lab are simplification of the nature, this experiment shows that increased variation can lead to increased problems with invasive species. Communities that are poorly adapted to the changes are more susceptible to the spread of invasive species, especially if their habitat changes strongly at the same time. Earlier research has emphasized the importance of adaptation of invasive species in dictating the spread to the new areas. This research is the first to show that it is also important how well the community is adapted to prevailing environmental conditions.
The research has been published in the BMC Evolutionary Biology and the research has been funded by the Academy of Finland.
Saarinen Kati, Lindström Leena, Ketola Tarmo 2018: Invasion triple trouble: environmental fluctuations, fluctuation-adapted communities under govern Invasion success. BMC Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1186 / s12862-019-1348-9