Here are some summaries of what the group at the the first meeting discussed. Members can comment and contribute at the bottom of each page or better yet on the message board forums.
1. Big Questions
We asked the group about what they think are the most important questions in invasion biology, or in ecology and evolutionary biology that can be addressed using biological invasions.
The group of 30 came up with 32 questions and topics! Each person then picked 5 question from the list of 30, and worked on consolidation of related ideas. Groups formed to discuss the five focal questions, and how a network like ours might address them.
2. Propagule pressure and genetic variation
Basic questions: What are the roles of genetic diversity and propagule pressure in invasive success? When does it diversity matter? How often is there outbreeding depression? Inbreeding depression? Can we develop specific demographic and evolutionary models that take into account admixture effects from single vs. multiple sources.
The people who were part of these discussions include Bob Holt, Mark Kot, Colleen Webb, Kristina Schierenbeck, Carol Lee, Katriona Shea, Lorne Wolfe. There were others present (many apologies, I did not write down all the names). Please add a comment to list your name if you are eager to continue to participate in this group (e.g., you have more than just an interest in the topic, but a willingness to devote time to thinking about it in this group).
3. Native vs. new range
Basic question: Are invasive species really behaving differently in their native and naturalized range? How frequently is there a difference?
This group discussed gathering data to address this question. People involved in the discussion include John Parker (nominal leader), Oliver Bossdorf, Ruth Hufbauer, Rieks van Klinken, Dave Richardson, Peter Kotanen, Howard Cornell and others. Please add a comment to add your name if you are interested in working on these analyses.
4. Relative importance of mechanisms
Basic question: What is the relative importance of different characteristics/processes in effecting invasion success (e.g. how important is biotic resistance relative to other processes?)
We did not come up with ways for the RCN to address this directly in the short run with our resources. However, Dana Blumenthal, Cini Brown, and Kat Shea have put in a proposal for a symposium at the Ecological Society of America in 2007 where speakers will address the relative importance of top-down and bottom-up forces in plant invasions.
5. Appropriate experiments and null models
Basic quesiton: Are we using the most appropriate null models and the right experiments or observations to make the strongest inferences possible?
This issue was discussed bit at the meeting, and has been in contact following the meeting. Group members are Collen Webb, Ruth Hufbuer, Andrew Norton, Mark Torchin, Lorne Wolfe.
More on this soon…