Why Are Invaders Such a Problem in Restoration?

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Terrestrial restoration to native communities and ecosystems is often hampered by exotic invasive species. These are species that when introduced to new habitats by humans, become much more abundant or dominant. Restoration-resistant invasion has a clear biogeographical component, for example the escape from specialist consumers by plants in their non-native range. Recent evidence suggests that escape from soil biota may also play an important role in many exotic plant invasions. Biogeographical differences in the performance of invaders suggest that mixing of species from communities with different evolutionary trajectories may increase the potential of success by exotics and the local extinction of natives.

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Ray Callaway is a professor at the University of Montana, Missoula. He is a community ecologist with a primary focus on plants. Ray is interested in how organisms interact with each other because the interactions can sometimes shed light on the fundamental aspects of communities - do communities simply function as independent competing populations that happen to be mixed together, or do adaptation and evolution produce a degree of integration and interdependence among organisms?