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Acacia invasions

Anticipatory governance and societal feedbacks in socio-environmental transitions: multi-continental acacia invasions as a model system

PIs: Dave Richardson (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and Christoph Kueffer (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

date at sDiv: 16.-19.02.2015

Humans move and propagate species, benefit or suffer from their impacts, judge these outcomes, and make management and policy decisions in response. In turn, some introduced species invade landscapes, with socioeconomic and ecosystem impacts, often leading to socio‐environmental regime shifts. Managing such regime shifts triggered by human‐induced biotic changes can be very challenging for at least three reasons. Many introduced species threaten biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g., water provision), but can be of great importance for local livelihoods and poverty alleviation (e.g., woodfuel); therefore, trade‐offs and synergies between biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem services to local livelihoods must be identified and managed. Furthermore, people facilitate the spread of introduced species through land use changes that are often a result of socio‐environmental changes induced by the spreading species; such socio‐environmental feedbacks must be understood to increase ecosystem resilience and develop management scenarios. Lastly, these depend on anticipating ecosystem change, which is often very difficult. Learning from experiences gained in other places confronted with similar invasions can facilitate proactive governance. We use “acacia invasions”—i.e., situations where trees of the genus Acacia (Fabaceae) have spread significantly in landscapes—in Europe, South Africa, Madagascar, and Australia (native range) as a model system to develop tools that facilitate such cross‐site learning. We put a particular emphasis on identifying trade‐offs and synergies between biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem services, and understanding human‐environment feedbacks through the integration of social and ecological factors. Ultimately, we aim to develop management scenarios and policy principles for decision‐makers.

João Gonçalves (University of Porto); João José Pradinho Honrado (University of Porto); Christoph Kueffer (ETH Zurich); Christian Kull (University of Lausanne); David Richardson (Stellenbosch University); Ana Sofia Vaz (Research network in biodiversity and evolutionary biology (InBIO)); Joana Vicente (University of Porto)


Vaz, A.S., Kueffer, C., Kull, C.A., Richardson, D.M., Vicente, J.R., Kühn, I., Schröter, M., Hauck, J., Bonn, A. & Honrado, J.P. (2017) Integrating ecosystem services and disservices: insights from plant invasions. Ecosystem Services, Volume 23, Pages 94-107. See here

Vaz, A.S., Kueffer, C., Kull, C.A., Richardson, D.M., Schindler, S., Muñoz-Pajares, A.J., Vicente, J.R., Martins, J., Hui, C., Kühn, I. & Honrado, J.P. (2017) The progress of interdisciplinarity in invasion science. Ambio, Volume 46, Pages 428–441. See here

Kueffer, C. & Kull, C.A. (2017) Non-native Species and the Aesthetics of Nature. Impact of Biological Invasions on Ecosystem Services (ed. by M. Vilà and P.E. Hulme). Springer International Publishing, Cham. 311-324. See here

Gaertner, M., Larson, B.M.H., Irlich, U.M., Holmes, P.M., Stafford, L., van Wilgen, B.W., Richardson, D.M. (2017) Managing invasive species in cities: A framework from Cape Town, South Africa. Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 151, Pages 1-9. See here

Rouget, M., Robertson, M.P., Wilson, J.R.U., Hui, C., Essl, F., Renteria, J.L., Richardson, D.M., Kühn, I. (2016) Invasion debt - quantifying future biological invasions. Diversity and Distributions. Volume 22, Pages 445-456. See here

Kull, C.A., Kueffer, C., Richardson, D.M., Vaz, A.S., Vicente, J.R. & Honrado, J.P. (2017) Using the ‘regime shift’ concept in addressing social–ecological change. Geographical Research, n/a. DOI: 10.1111/1745-5871.12267. See here

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