Oddělení ekologie invazí / Department of Invasion Ecology
Botanický ústav Akademie věd ČR/Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
CZ - 252 43, Průhonice


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Alien Challenge: European Information System for Alien Species (COST TD1209)
Giant Alien - Heracleum mantegazzianum

Biotic threats to garden monuments
Ecological impacts of alien and native plants on vegetation: does origin matter?
A proposal of the invasive alien species mapping and monitoring system
Timing is everything: the role of seed banks in plant invasions
Mechanisms of invasive alien plants' impact on bird communities
Plant diversity analysis and synthesis centre (PLADIAS)
A global population-level study of the genus Phragmites
Biogeographical comparisons of the effects of alien and native dominants
Naturalization of garden plants
Thermal requirements
Species traits, local differentiation and phenotypic plasticity as determinants of invasion success in congeneric plants
Comparative Ecology of Generative Reproduction of Alien Plants
Invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum: the role of time and spatial scales
Database of Alien Woody species with special regard to alien Invasive woody Species in the Czech Republic


Alien Challenge: European Information System for Alien Species (COST TD1209); (2014-2018)

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) threaten biodiversity, society, human-health, well-being and the economy. The economic impact to Europe is estimated 12.5 to 20 billion € (annually). Europe has committed to tackling IAS through Target 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 which is in line with target 9, COP 10 Decision X/2; an information system is a prerequisite to meet strategy through effective early warning and rapid response for prevention and control of IAS. Initiatives to collate information on IAS have resulted in the development of many databases differing in their geographic, taxonomic and ecological coverage. There are a number of constraints that might limit the effective use of existing databases: data obsolescence, lack of interoperability and uncertainties for long-term sustainability of the various tools. This COST Action will facilitate enhanced knowledge gathering and sharing through a network of experts, providing support to a European IAS information system which will enable effective and informed decision-making in relation to IAS. An overarching priority will be to identify the needs and formats for alien species (AS) information by different user groups and specifically for implementation of EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. Correspondingly early warning tools and rapid response protocols will be developed.
Řešitel: H. Roy - NERC UK (J. Pergl - vedoucí pilíře)
Projekt je podporován EU

ALARM - Assessing LArge scale environmental Risks for biodiversity with tested Methods; (2004-2008)

Based on a better understanding of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functioning ALARM will develop and test methods and protocols for the assessment of large-scale environmental risks in order to minimise negative direct and indirect human impacts.
Research will focus on assessment and forecast of changes in biodiversity and in structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems. This relates to ecosystem services and includes the relationship between society, economy and biodiversity. In particular, risks arising from climate change, environmental chemicals, biological invasions and pollinator loss in the context of current and future European land use patterns will be assessed.
There is an increasing number of case studies on the environmental risks subsequent to each of these impacts. This yields an improved understanding on how these act individually and affect living systems. Whereas the knowledge on how they act in concert is poor and ALARM will be the first research initiative with the critical mass needed to deal with such aspects of combined impacts and their consequences.
Risk assessments in ALARM will be hierarchical and examine a range of organisational (genes, species, ecosystems), temporal (seasonal, annual, decadal) and spatial scales (habitat, region, continent) determined by the appropriate resolution of current case studies and databases. Socio-economics as a cross-cutting theme will contribute to the integration of driver-specific risk assessment tools and methods and will develop instruments to communicate risks to biodiversity to end users, and indicate policy options to mitigate such risks
The ALARM consortium combines the expertise of 53 partners from 26 countries (14 EU, 7 NAS, Israel, Switzerland, and 3 INCO states). ALARM encompasses 7 SMEs as full partners with central responsibilities and with a share of >10% of the project resources.
General objectives:
1)   To develop an integrated large scale risk assessment for biodiversity as well as terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems as a part of environmental risk assessment.
2)   To focus on risks consequent on climate change, environmental chemicals, rates and extent of loss of pollinators and biological invasions.
3)   To establish socio-economic risk indicators related to the drivers of biodiversity pressures as a tool to support long-term oriented mitigating policies and to monitor their implementation.
4)   To develop, for the first time, a research network that is consistently thinking, interacting, and investigating on a continental scale across different environmental problems (impacts) and across different spatial and temporal scales of ecosystem diversity changes.
5)   To provide a contribution to objective based politics, to policy integration and to derive outcome-oriented policy measures in the field of biodiversity preservation by contributing to the integrated assessment of socio-economic drivers affecting biodiversity and integrated, long-term oriented means to mitigate them.
Project is supported within the 6th framework programme of EU
official project web page: http://www.alarm-project.ufz.de

DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe; (2005-2008)

Effective control of invasive alien species has been hampered by a) the lack of monitoring for alien species at frequent enough intervals in regions of concern; b) a means to report, verify the identifications, and warn of new sightings; and c) risk assessments that predict the likelihood of a particular species becoming invasive. Europe has yet to establish a programme with the primary goal of detection, quantifying the possible risk, and warning managers before a respective alien species spreads beyond its point of initial introduction. Such a programmes should provide:
·   a warning system to alert regional managers,
·   an inventory of alien species against which invasive alien species can be determined,
·   a European information dissemination system,
·   an early detection and monitoring system for alien species,
In response to these requirements, DAISIE will deliver a European “one-stop-shop” for information on biological invasions in Europe. It will bring together:
·   The European Alien Species Expertise Registry: a directory of researchers and research
·   European Alien Species Database: including all known naturalized alien species in Europe
·   European Invasive Alien Species Information System: descriptions of all naturalized alien species known to be invasive in Europe
·   Species Distribution Maps and Spatial Analysis: Distribution maps of all invasive alien species in Europe known or suspected of having environmental or economic impacts.
DAISIE will be a pivotal instrument in developing a Europe-wide strategy that encompasses both the geographical scale of the problem and unites the study of different taxa in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. DAISIE will address the need for a regional network of invasive alien species information. With direct access to national knowledge bases throughout Europe, those addressing the invasive alien species challenge could easily obtain data on which species are invasive or potentially invasive in particular habitats, and use this information in their planning efforts. Objectives of DAISIE project will be delivered via an international team of leading experts in the field of biological invasions, latest technological developments in database design and display, and an extensive network of European stakeholders. Project is supported within the 6th framework programme of EU
DAISIE Handbook of alien species in Europe available NOW from SPRINGER
official project web page:http://www.europe-aliens.org

PRATIQUE - Enhancements of pest risk analysis techniques; (2008-200.)

PRATIQUE will carry out all the key work listed in the call and address the major challenges for pest risk analysis (PRA) in Europe. This will be achieved through three principal objectives:
   * to assemble the datasets required to construct effective PRAs valid for the whole of the EU.
   * to conduct multi-disciplinary research that enhances the techniques used in PRA
   * and to ensure that the PRA decision support scheme meets its purpose, is efficient and user-friendly.
Pest risk analysts, phytosanitary experts, invasive alien species specialists, ecologists, economists and risk modellers from 13 leading institutes in the EU, one from Australia and one from New Zealand will produce the first structured inventory of PRA datasets for the EU and undertake targeted research to improve existing procedures and develop new methods for:
   1. the assessment of economic, environmental and social impacts,
   2. summarising risk in effective, harmonised ways that take account of uncertainty,
   3. mapping endangered areas
   4. pathway risk analysis and systems approaches and
   5. guiding actions during emergencies caused by outbreaks of harmful pests.
The results will be tested with a representative range of the major pests and invasive alien species affecting the cultivated and uncultivated habitats of the EU and will be independently validated by phytosanitary experts. The deliverables will be provided as protocols, decision support systems and computer programs with examples of best practice made available to pest risk analysts through modules and direct links to the PRA scheme. The PRA scheme will be web-enabled providing:
   1. new users with context-sensitive guidance,
   2. experts with a more efficient and user-friendly process and greatly enhanced access to key datasets and analytical tools,
   3. policy makers with an improved and robust scientific basis for managing risks and
   4. stakeholders with a transparent presentation of the risks. Project is supported within the 7th framework programme of EU
official project web page:https://secure.csl.gov.uk/pratique/index.cfm

Giant Alien - Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) a pernicious invasive weed: Developing a sustainable strategy for alien invasive plant management in Europe; (2001-2005)

Alien invasive plants such as Heracleum mantegazzianum are having a severe impact on biodiversity in Europe but no sustainable solutions are available to stop their spread and prevent future invasions. The overall objective of the project is therefore to develop an integrated management strategy that comprises effective, practicable and sustainable means of controlling an alien non-agricultural weed (H. mantegazzianum). This will provide a generic control strategy to safeguard the biodiversity of Europe from the increasingly serious threat of other alien invasives. In addition to the effective control of this species, a concept would be produced which could serve as a template by which other exotic species could be controlled or prevented from reaching the invasive phase. The overall objective will be achieved through the following objectives:
1)   creating a knowledge base for H. mantegazzianum including genetics, taxonomy, biology and ecology
2)   modelling the invasion of the species at the local and continental scale
3)   searching for, and assessing potential biological control agents in the area of origin of H. mantegazzianum for potential future use in Europe, including a risk-benefit analysis, an evaluation of existing European guidelines for the importation of exotic organisms, and an implementation plan
4)   investigating presently applied mechanical and chemical control methods together with possible measures to reduce and prevent further dispersal of H. mantegazzianum and other alien invasive weeds.
5)   integrating the resultant knowledge and experience to produce best practice guidelines and an integrated control strategy
6)   disseminating this knowledge to practitioners across Europe to implement effective and economic sound control measures.
Project was supported within the 5th framework programme of EU
official project web page: http://www.giant-alien.dk

Pyšek P., M.J.W. Cock, W. Nentwig & H.P. Ravn (2007): Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). - CAB International Promo leaflet

8Biotic threats to garden monuments: algae, cyanobacteria and invasive plant species; (2016-2020)

The project addresses the primary aim of the NAKI programme, to contribute to rational use of public sources to build instruments for conservation, assessment and presentation of the objects of landscape design and of the cultural landscapes (Global Aim No. 2). We will elaborate on working methods, instruments and approaches that will reduce, in a principle way, existing negative biotic factors that threaten garden monuments. Such negative impacts that will be addressed by the project include invasive plant species, with associated introduced pathogens, and microorganism (algae and cyanobacteria) deteriorating water quality and degrading facades and sculptures.
In the proposed project we will focus on (i) designing sustainable management procedures for cultivated alien plant species in chateau parks and landscape gardens, (ii) creating on-line technology for the in-situ detection of critical parameters of the water quality, together with developing a prototype of the instrument measuring and transmitting data on water quality; (iii) assessment of the biodegradation of facades and statues, that will yield a patent for early warning method to prevent biodeterioration and destruction of sculptures and facades by microorganisms; and (iv) development and testing the technology of non-invasive detection of microorganisms causing the biodegradation of statues, facades and wood.
In addition to the patent, functional prototype, utility pattern, technology, software to identify threat to garden monuments by introduced invasive species, and certified methodologies, there will be special maps of distribution of invasive alien plant species and their threat to the study areas.
Project coordinator: J. Pergl
Projekt is supported by Ministry of Culture CR (project NAKI II)

Ecological impacts of alien and native plants on vegetation: does origin matter?; (2017-2019)

Ongoing debates sometimes questioned whether introduced alien invasive species impose a greater threat to biodiversity than native species that are spreading in transformed current landscapes. Curiously, no one has ever measured for a range of species whether the effects ( impacts) these two groups have on biodiversity differ. This project will measure the impacts of invasive alien and native dominant plant species in the Czech Republic on plant communities and soil ecosystem. The difference between the two groups will make it possible to express the net impact of invasive species, the only valid measure of their real effect that is nevertheless rarely employed and that can only be quantified if the local impact of natives is accounted for. We will combine field methods to measure impact at the local scale of individual sites with recording the abundance and distribution of the species in the country, by which we will quantify and compare the real magnitude of impacts of native and invasive dominants at the regional scale.
Project coordinator: J. Pergl
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

A proposal of the invasive alien species mapping and monitoring system; (2016)

The project aims to design a system of mapping and monitoring of invasive species. Specific (sub)goals: 1) Develop a invasive species mapping methodology which will take into account these starting points:
- different nature of the various groups of species (plants vs. vertebrates vs. invertebrates, aquatic vs. terrestrial species, etc.)
- different prevalence and different ways and dynamics of the target species spreading (The monitoring of presence and degrees of widespread of species and also system for early detection of target invasive alien species with a significant impact on the Union has to be created in response to the requirements of the European Parliament and Council Regulation no. 1143/2014).
A summary of existing information on the biology, ecology and distribution of target species (incl. summary data on the expansion from various existing sources), evaluation of the validity of existing data and proposition of the priority areas where additional information is needed will be a part of the mapping methodology.
2) Propose a system and process methodology for long-term monitoring of invasive species that will be provided by:
- categorization of data with relation to the next steps (early intervention for newly discovered species, prioritization of management measures etc.).
- interconnection with existing systems for monitoring, data collection and processing in the area of nature conservation with an emphasis on efficiency,
- effectiveness of the monitoring system in terms of organizational arrangements and the use of different data sources.
System of monitoring and data evaluation will be prepared to allow both its use for statistics in the context of the environmental reports and interconnection with indicators in this area (EEA indicator of invasive species, resp. SEBI 2000).
Project coordinator: J. Pergl
Project is supported by TAČR

Timing is everything: the role of seed banks in plant invasions; (2015-2017)

Invasive plants are known to exert substantial impacts on native communities. Soil seed banks, i.e. reserves of viable seeds in the soil or on its surface, could play an important role in determining the invasiveness of alien (non-native) species, the invasibility of native communities (their susceptibility to invasions by alien plants), and the overall impact of plant invasions. By building a global database of existing data on seed banks and comparing seed bank dynamics of alien and native congeners in common garden experiments, we will provide a robust assessment of the role of seed banks in promoting plant invasions. This will be achieved by testing whether (i) the seed banks that alien species form after invasion differ from seed banks in their native ranges or from (ii) seed banks of their native congeners. We will also (iii) examine whether the seed banks of invasive alien plants differ from non-invasive aliens, (iv) assess community invasibility based on the seed bank; and (v) explore the impact of invasion on the seed bank of resident communities.
Project coordinator: M. Gioria
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Mechanisms of invasive alien plants' impact on bird communities: lessons from selected tree species introduced into the Czech Republic; (2014-2016)

Alien plants invade native habitats worldwide and they are thus among the most serious threats for global biodiversity; they affect interspecific interactions and species richness as well as ecosystem functioning. Although there is a good understanding of invasive alien plant impacts on other plant species, invertebrate communities and nutrient cycles, our knowledge about their impacts on birds remains poor. At the same time, birds are key seed dispersers and top consumers and thus studying their response to plant invasions is essential to understand the ecosystem and landscape level of invasive plants’ impacts. Our project aims to explore the invasive alien plant impact on bird communities using three widespread tree species as model organisms. These species are alien to the Czech Republic and have different ecological characteristics. The specific aims are: (i) to compare characteristics of bird communities between the invaded and reference habitats, (ii) to test possible mechanisms of the impact of the invasive alien trees on bird communities.
Project coordinator for IBOT: M. Hejda
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Plant diversity analysis and synthesis centre (PLADIAS); (2014-2018)

Central Europe belongs to areas with the best available botanical data globally, which makes it an ideal model region to study evolution of temperate plant diversity and community assembly. However, this potential is often unexplored and many facets of temperate plant diversity are thus poorly understood due to limited integration of existing data. PLADIAS Centre of Excellence is a globally unique project, which will, for the first time, use ecoinformatics approaches to integrate all available data on flora and vegetation for a national territory in a single database, update them and link them with newly collected data. The resulting database will be interfaced with international databases, and made available to a broader scientific community and the public in an online portal. For the PLADIAS team this will open novel ways of addressing fundamental questions of plant community ecology and macroecology, namely trade-offs in life histories of large species sets, region-wide community assembly from available species pools and determinants of plant invasions.
Project coordinator: M. Chytrý
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Whole-genome processes interact with ecology and geography in shaping plant invasiveness: a global population-level study of the genus Phragmites; (2014-2016)

This project employs a novel framework to address multiple factors affecting plant invasiveness using the model grass species Phragmites australis. Using an extant collection of hundreds of populations from all over the globe, we will measure geographically structured variation in the cytological make-up (genome copy number and nuclear DNA amount) and in a common garden experiment the ecological traits (growth, reproduction, enemy attack, competitive ability) of the populations and assess how these interact to determine invasiveness. We hypothesise that cytological and ecological traits directly affect invasiveness and are co-shaped by their invasion potential over evolutionary history in the population’s geographic origin and by environmental variation in the introduced range. In addition, cytology and geography also affect invasiveness indirectly by influencing ecological traits. Disentangling these complex issues, backed-up by existing knowledge of populations’ genetic make-up will provide novel insights into mechanisms of invasion at the population level.
Project coordinator: P. Pyšek
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Response of plant communities to invasion: trans-continental biogeographical comparisons of the effects of alien and native dominants; (2011-2015)

The project will compare what is the effect of a dominant species on other species in a plant community and whether it differs when the same dominant invasive grows in its native or invaded distribution range. In both ranges, recolonization of the plant community after disturbance and removal of the dominant species will be studied. Both comparative and experimental data will be sampled in North America and Europe; reciprocal biogeographical comparisons will be carried out on (i) species native to Central Europe and invasive in North America and (ii) vice versa. The diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi will be compared in the native and invaded range since mutualistic relationhipss of plant species with soil fungal organisms are an important co-determinant of invasion success and could provide explanation to assumed differing response of the community in the native and ¨ invaded range. The key goal of the project will be answering the question if the invasive alien plants impact resident communities in a different way than native dominant species.
Project coordinator: M. Hejda
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Naturalization of garden plants as a result of interplay of species traits, propagule pressure and residence time; (2011-2015)

The proposed project will address, by using ornamental species, the effect of determinants of successful naturalization, i.e. what is the role of species biological traits, propagule pressure and residence time. The pool of species studies will include species that do not escape from cultivation, hence using information on failed introductions which is rarely considered in current studies. The project will be based on collated primary data (i) from floristic inventory of plants cultivated in gardens in the Czech Republic, which will provide measure of propagule pressure, and (ii) on species biological traits. This approach will allow to test whether invasions of garden plants are largely determined by species traits or stochastic factors. The project will evaluate existing weed risk assessment schemes for predicting probability of invasion by particular species, and test risks associated with cultivation of species that may become problematic in the future.
Project coordinator: J. Pergl
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Thermal requirements for the development of ectotherms: searching for general patterns among plants and insects; (2009-2013)

The ontogenetic development of ectotherm organisms, plants and insects, is a function of a given temperature and time over which it is acting (thermal time). This concept is well developed for insects, but for plants it was only applied to crops to model their development. The project will carry out the first study of the effect of thermal time on ontogenesis for a large set of plant species. Under strictly defined conditions in climatic chambers, we will test whether individual phenological stages of each plant species have the same lower developmental threshold, and whether development of each species is constrained by predicted thermal window, as formerly revealed in insects. Transitions between four ontogenetic stages will be tested in 80-100 native and alien herbs under six constant temperatures. The data will be used, together with a database of thermal characteristics of ca 500 insect species (mainly pests and their natural enemies), to assess the risk of spread of these species under global climate changes. The study will make it possible to generalize the concepts of common species-specific developmental thresholds and constraint thermal windows to all ectotherms, and improve understanding of adaptations which shape their distribution.
Project coordinator: V. Jarošík and L. Moravcová
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Species traits, local differentiation and phenotypic plasticity as determinants of invasion success in congeneric plants; (2007-2011)

Understanding processes facilitating spread of alien plants is a key priority in the study of biological invasions. The project is to focus on the role of species traits, phenotypic plasticity and local differentiation in determining the invasion success of alien plants. The investigation will be carried out using 4 congeneric annual species with similar life-history and similar habitats, but differing in the invasion status: highly invasive Impatiens glandulifera, less invasive I. parviflora, native I. noli-tangere, and I. capensis, potentially invasive to Czech Republic. The species provide an excellent experimental model due to reducing common biases associated with phylogeny and differing habitats. The study will focus on seed ecology and plant performance under various levels of environmental factors (temperature, canopy shade, soil moisture, nutrient level). To assess the ability to select the appropriate genotypes, a 4-year selection experiment to simulated canopy shade will be carried out.
Project coordinator: H. Skálová
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Comparative Ecology of Generative Reproduction of Alien Plants; (2005-2008)

The project is aimed at obtaining detailed information about reproductive characteristics of a large number of naturalized species of the Czech flora. Traditional approaches searching for species attributes as determinants of invasiveness have been based so far on only vague estimates of these characteristics which are difficult to obtain for a large numbers of species. Nevertheless, there is an agreement that reproductive characteristics are crucial for the outcome of invasion. In total, 60–100 species will be sampled in the field and by using standard methods, quantitative information on fecundity, germination pattern and dormancy, diaspore morphology, dispersibility, seedling RGR, breeding system, clonality, and genome size will be obtained. In addition, DNA of a subset of species currently in their lag phase of invasion will be sampled and stored for comparison with future state and assessment of changes in genetic make up and their role in the invasion process; sampling will be done to cover the genetic variation of populations involved. The project will make use of previously acquired detailed knowledge of each species behaviour at the territory of the country and statistical analysis will be designed to seek predictors of these attributes by using parameters obtained during the project for each species involved. Statistical analysis used will make it possible to identify net effects of predictors, unbiased by correlative structure of the data. By employing a comparative ecological approach, the project is aimed at diminishing the gap between comparative studies of alien floras and detailed case studies of particular species.
Project coordinator: L. Moravcová
Project is supported by Czech Science Foundation

Invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum: the role of time and spatial scales; (2008-2011)

The project is focussed on the population dynamics of an invasive plant species Heracleum mantegazzianum assessed at various spatial and temporal scales. Information on (i) population dynamics in permanent plots (10 m2, 10 years), (ii) the history of invasion in the Slavkovský les region reconstructed by using aerial photographs (ca 600 km2, 50 years) and (iii) long-term persistence in invaded sites in the Czech Republic (ca 78,000 km2, 150 years) will be combined to explore dynamics of spread at different scales, as well as the role of long-distance dispersal and historical changes in land-use. Data will also provide basis for modelling the response of the species to the variety of control measures, which will result in suggesting the most appropriate management of this invasive species. By using this model system, the project will also contribute to general understanding of the metapopulation dynamics of monocarpic perennial plants and determinants of colonization processes.
Project coordinator: J. Pergl
Project is supported by Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Database of Alien Woody species with special regard to alien Invasive woody Species in the Czech Republic

The new database of alien woody species introduced to the Central Europe was developed for fill the information gap. Database of Alien Woody species with special regard to alien Invasive woody Species in the Czech Republic (DAWIS) represents a new tool for ecology of plant invasions but also for horticulture and landscape planning. The DAWIS database was primary developed for the area of the Czech Republic. The DAWIS includes data about alien woody species distributed by garden centres and widely planted in the Czech Republic. However many characteristics are specific for the Czech Republic, the most information is meaningful for the whole Central Europe and other regions with temperate climate. The special focus is taken to the species escaped from the cultivation. Therefore the DAWIS database could be used as valuable tool not only for identifying traits related to the invasiveness of the alien woody species.
Responsible person: Martin Křivánek
Download the database here (Zipped file; 39 MB). Follow instructions in readme.txt to instal the database.