Year of selection 2008
Institution Queen’s University Belfast
Survival of the fittest! This is what evolutionary theory has taught us. Yet did you know that this could result in full-fledged wars in the marine world? The proliferation of invasive marine species to new geographical areas has become a wide-spread and expanding phenomenon which now endangers the capacity of native species to face genetic drifts. In addition to this new weakness, the increase of water transport has contributed to the multiplication of pathways and points of entry for marine aliens and biological colonization. Serious economic damage has been an inevitable result, thus making Invasive Alien Species* (IAS) the second most important cause of global biodiversity loss.
Currently Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Christine Maggs’s project aims to provide extensive and valuable knowledge on the status of coastal marine invasions in Europe, with a view to identifying and monitoring the impact of climate change and human pressure on the dynamics of coastal marine ecosystems. In the face of alarming rates of IAS spread in recent years, Professor Maggs’s initiative is an innovative response to biodiversity loss, as it brings together a consortium of multidisciplinary stakeholders, researchers and decision makers at the European level.
Indeed, Professor Maggs’s strategy, which has been further strengthened by collaborations with Spanish, French and British research institutions, manages to combine top-down (ecological theory-based) and bottom-up (collation of novel and historical data sets of invasion) approaches in a dual model-fitting view. This method facilitates comparison between different invasive species and has potential applications for managing invasions and policy-making.
In addition to reducing the threat of marine biodiversity loss, Prof. Maggs’s results could be crucial for the elaboration of management guidelines, in keeping with the European Strategy on IAS, to preserve biodiversity.
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