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Project - Aliens in the polar regions: Impacts of invasive species and invasion engineers on polar terrestrial ecosystems (Aliens in the polar regions)


A lot of effort and money is being spent on limiting alien invasions and eradication and mitigation programs in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Given the ever‐increasing anthropogenic activities and ongoing rapid climate warming in parts of the polar regions, it is unavoidable that alien species will reach these ecosystems, as some already have. However, we currently do not know what the impacts of these species will be for polar terrestrial ecosystems, despite the vital roles and services these ecosystems play in regional and global processes. In this proposal, we aim to quantify and measure the impact of alien species on Arctic and Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. This knowledge will add focus and impetus for efforts to restrict alien species from reaching the polar regions, and in particular those biological groups with the largest ecosystem impacts. Furthermore, we recognise that there are both native and alien species whose ecosystem contribution can facilitate the invasion success of other new arrivals, for instance by providing shelter (e.g. tall shrubs) or nutrients (e.g. penguins). Identifying such ‘invasion engineers’ and their roles will greatly help in pin‐pointing and identifying particularly vulnerable areas where alien species are likely to be successful, and provide key data on the functioning of polar ecosystems.

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