PhD Research

Invasive Species and In-stream Infrastructure

Invasive species and river infrastructure (e.g. dams, weirs and culverts) are widely recognised as key drivers of freshwater biodiversity loss. These stressors are commonly considered in isolation, but a growing body of evidence suggests that the construction of river infrastructure can affect the success of invasive species. In some cases, the disturbance and increased accessibility associated with the construction of infrastructure can facilitate the introduction and establishment of invasive species. However, infrastructure can act as a barrier to invasive spread, and some have even suggested that the construction or maintenance of such barriers (i.e. 'exclusion barriers') may be a useful management strategy in cases where eradication is impossible. Despite these suggestions, numerous questions remain regarding the effectiveness of exclusion barriers as a management technique.

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This project combines a global meta-analysis, spatial modelling and laboratory experiments to answer three key questions:

 

     1) How does river infrastructure affect invasive species at each stage of the invasion process?

     2) Do existing barriers limit the spread of invasive species at a national scale?

     3) What are the individual- and population-level characteristics that determine the effectiveness of                                 purpose-built exclusion barriers?

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An example of anthropogenic in-stream infrastructure in a UK river.