Does the ecological niche shift during invasion: a case study for introduced seaweeds

Type: 
Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
programme: 
EMBC+
The assumption that climatic niche requirements of invasive species are conserved between their native and invaded ranges is key to predicting the risk of invasion. However, this assumption has been challenged recently by recent evidence suggesting that the climatic niche occupied by species may not be conserved between their native and invaded ranges, as documented by observed niche shifts for plants, insects, and fish. In order to assess the potential spread of a newly introduced species it is important to know whether the assumption that the niche as modeled with an ecological niche model from occurrence data in the native region stays the same after invasion. In this thesis the student will examine potential niche shifts in invasive seaweeds, which pose a major threat to our European native diversity in coastal ecosystems. In addition, next to comparing ecological niches from both the invasive and native region we would also like to compare these niches with the results from physiological tolerance experiments on both strains from the native region as strains from the invaded region. This research will require fieldwork for sampling strains, lab work for the physiological experiments and modeling techniques.
prerequisites: 
interest in marine biogeography and invasive species problems
Number of students: 
1
academic year: 
2015-2016
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Olivier De Clerck
Other people involved: 
Samuel Bosch (UGent - Phycology)
Reference Number: RP-36302