Ecology and impact of invasive vertebrate species

Invasive species are increasingly regarded as a major threat to biodiversity, but in many cases evidence is lacking on the actual impact of these species on endemic taxa or the environment in general. Regardless of their impact, predicting the potential distribution of invasive taxa remains a major challenge.

Postdoc Diederik Strubbe has studied the ecology and impact of ring-necked parakeets Psittacula krameri since 2005. Recently he has expanded his research to other invasive parakeets and birds in general, using species distribution modeling approaches to understand the role of niche shifts versus niche conservatism in the establishment of non-native species.

Additional projects include the interaction between different invasive parakeet species, distribution and impact of Egyptian goose, and the genetic population structure of ring-necked parakeets (in collaboration with Jim Groombridge, Kent).

In a related topic, PhD student Kristijn Swinnen is studying the current and potential distribution of (illegally) reintroduced beavers in Flanders, with the ultimate aim of providing a risk assessment of environmental damage by beaver dams.

Main researchers

Diederik Strubbe, Kristijn Swinnen, Erik Matthysen, Herwig Leirs

Highlighted publications

Strubbe D, Matthysen E. 2009.
Establishment success of invasive ring-necked and monk parakeets in Europe.
Journal of  Biogeography  36: p. 2264-2278.  (download PDF -  0.3 Mb)

Strubbe D, Matthysen E & Graham C. 2010.
Assessing the potential impact of invasive ring-necked parakeets Psittacula krameri on native nuthatches Sitta europaea in Belgium.
Journal of Applied Ecology  47:  p. 549-557.   (download PDF - 0.5 Mb)

Strubbe D, Broennimann O, Chiron F, Matthysen E.
Niche conservatism in non-native birds in Europe: niche unfilling rather than niche expansion.
Global Ecology and Biogeography  22:  p. 962-970   (download PDF -  0.3 Mb)