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Toward a general theory of biological invasions

PI(s): Daniel Taub (Southwestern University)
Start Date: 12-Jan-2009
End Date: 16-Jan-2009
Keywords: invasive species, natural population

Multiple hypotheses have been put forward to explain biological invasions, but they are generally posed and tested independently. We have been attempting to place the major hypotheses for biological invasions into the conceptual framework of basic ecological and evolutionary processes, and examining their logical structure to identify their congruences, unique features, and contradictions. Rather than asking whether one hypothesis is supported by the data in any one particular invasion, as has commonly been done, we wish to create a framework for assessing the relative contributions of different factors to both individual invasions, and overall, to assess their relative importance across many different cases of invasion. We propose a short meeting to make progress on completing two papers synthesizing hypotheses about the process of biological invasion into a general theory: a short paper expressing its essence to be submitted to Science, and a longer paper for The American Naturalist laying out the details of this general theory.

While we have been working on these ideas intermittently for well over a year, the reality is that we live on 3 different continents and we all have many other commitments and obligations that demand our daily attention. A week without distractions, working together, would be the most promising approach to pulling our ideas together and preparing manuscripts to submit to these journals.

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