INVASIVE SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS
Invasive species are a major driver of change in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. My research seeks to understand how invasive species influence community structure and ecosystem processes and to assist in predicting and mitigating their impacts. I approach this topic using experimental and theoretical techniques. In the field, I study the impacts of large invasive mammals introduced in Patagonia, Argentina, deer (Cervus elaphus and Dama dama) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). To gain a global perspective on impacts of invaders, I have reviewed key literature on plant origin and invasiveness, and compared impacts of boar in the native and introduced ranges. These comparisons allow me to identify the mechanisms that promote invasion and help to focus resources on viable management strategies.
GENETIC DIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS
The importance of within-species genetic diversity on ecosystem functioning is growing in prominence. Genetic variation within a species can have strong effects on population, community, and ecosystem processes. For example, different plant genotypes can have strong effects on the population dynamics of associated arthropods. Moreover, differences in plant genotypes can influence both above- and below-ground ecosystem processes such as primary productivity, litter quality, decomposition rates, and nutrient cycling. Working in collaboration with Greg Crutsinger, we are exploring the influence of genetic diversity across ecosystem boundaries and under climate change.