Mapping patterns of species invasion and interactions with natural hazards

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

This PhD explores the global patterns of alien invasive species (IAS) and their interactions with natural hazards. The aim is to bring together the fields of invasion ecology and natural hazards research to (i) provide information that will help “find ways” to mitigate the negative impacts of both invasive alien species and natural hazards, and (ii) increase our understanding of the effects of humans on ecosystems and of the processes that drive ecological patterns. Chapter 2 provides a broad overview of how invasive alien species are defined, the invasion process and reviews the type and quantity of data available in the public domain. It covers indices, monitoring/modelling methods and scrutiny of available databases to determine their potential for data mining and applications. Chapter 3 is based on a published paper, which use IAS global databases to provide a visualization of global geographical patterns of species invasions, origins and pathways and depict the international uptake of legislative and policy responses to invasive alien species. Chapter 4 presents a broad overview of natural hazards processes; intensity measures and discusses theoretical interactions with alien species. Chapter 5 uses data gathered from Web of Science to systematically map the state of evidence on interactions between invasive alien species (IAS) and natural hazards (NH) and identifies regions most susceptible to invasive species and natural hazard interactions. Interactions considered include increased and decreased probability relationships. Country susceptibility to IAS and NH interactions was determined using indices of IAS (NH) exposure and k-means clustering. Chapter 6 combines a review of the published literature and commentary to develop a theoretical framework on the influence of invasive alien plants on the fuel structure of invaded landscapes. It provides an introduction to fire ecology and the geography of fire in the context setting of invasive alien plants and fire interactions and presents further analysis of the systematic map produced in Chapter 5. Chapter 7 combines species distribution modelling (SMD) and the invasive alien plant-fire interaction framework developed in Chapter 6 to identify potential changes in fire hazard due to changes in fuel structure brought about by a shrub (Ulex europaeus) invasion globally. Species data for the SDMs are acquired from GBIF and analysed using the BIOMOD2 R package.This thesis provides maps and compiled databases on invasive species and their interactions with natural hazards as well as a framework to evaluate landscape fire hazard changes following potential invasions. These tools can be used to increase our understanding of the influence of humans on ecosystems, as well as contribute to the quantification and management of IAS impacts, risk assessments of NH, and inform broad policy goals.
Date of Award1 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorBruce Malamud (Supervisor) & Robert Francis (Supervisor)

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