A network perspective on species invasion and colonization

Anna Eklöf

Theoretical Biology, IFM, Linköping University, Sweden

Species are at an increasing rate colonizing novel regions around the world –as results from well-planned anthropogenic actions, accidental anthropogenic actions or by environmentally forces such as climate change. However, the ecological issues and consequences of a species taken from its natural habitat to a new one are similar despite the initial causes of the movement. Species are not isolated entities in an ecosystem but rather part of a network of complex interactions with other species, and therefore colonization in a new causes formation of novel interactions with novel species. How and where these novel interactions are formed – i.e., where the new species becomes settled in the network and forms its new ecological niche – can have far-reaching consequences for its ecological role in the new region. Here we want to analyze the characteristics of this potential niche-change and in particular if it differs for species that becomes an aggressive invader or species that calmly are settling down. To address this we use modeling techniques stemming from the boxicity concept in mathematics.

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