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Invasive Alien Species: towards Improved MOdeling tools through Virtual ecology (IASIMOV)
Date du début: 1 oct. 2013, Date de fin: 30 sept. 2015 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

In Europe and worldwide, many plant communities are increasingly becoming dominated by introduced species. Invasive alien species (IAS) have caused severe environmental changes globally by altering species composition and ecosystem function and are considered a major threat to biodiversity. Consequently the Action Plan for Biodiversity advocates a comprehensive strategy at EU level to reduce the impact of IAS. This proposal aims to merge perspectives from plant evolutionary, functional and community ecology with those from simulation modeling to reveal the processes underlying plant invasions and improve our statistical framework for studying and preventing them. There are 4 research objectives: the first two objectives rely on theoretical modeling while the third and fourth aim to apply the knowledge acquired from the theoretical modeling part to empirical data in the French Mediterranean and Alpine region. In particular, the project will 1) develop and validate a process-based simulation model to explore how environmental and biotic filters for local community assembly are reflected in invasion patterns using virtual data, focusing on the importance of the spatial scale and of different mechanisms of competition; 2) test the ability of current statistical methods to disentangle patterns resulting from overlaying filters and provide guidelines for improved method performance using simulated data; 3) apply the improved statistical methods on French Mediterranean and Alpine plant communities to explore shifts in dominant invasion processes across environmental gradients and invasion stages; 4) attempt to parametrise the developed process-based model through a novel Bayesian approach in order to quantify the relative importance of environmental and biotic filters for successful invasions. The outcome of the project will be of high relevance for both scientific knowledge-building in the field of invasion ecology and the support of decision makers in invasion management