Historical data reveal power-law dispersal patterns of invasive aquatic species

Authors

  • Ruth Kelly,

    1. Quercus, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
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  • Mathieu G. Lundy,

    1. Quercus, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
    2. Agri-food and Biosciences Inst., Fisheries Aquatic Ecosystems Branch, Newforge Lane, Belfast, BT9 5PX, UK.
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  • Frédéric Mineur,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
    2. Mediterranean Inst. of Oceanography, FR-13288 Marseille, France.
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  • Chris Harrod,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
    2. Facultad de Recursos del Mar, Inst. de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Univ. Antofagasta, Chile
    3. School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary Univ. of London, Mile End Road, London, E14NS, UK.
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  • Christine A. Maggs,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
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  • Nicolas E. Humphries,

    1. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK.
    2. School of Marine Science and Engineering, Marine Inst., Univ. of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.
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  • David W. Sims,

    1. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK.
    2. Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, Univ. of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK
    3. Centre for Biological Sciences and Inst. for Life Sciences, Building 85, Univ. of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK.
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  • Neil Reid

    1. Quercus, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.
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R. Kelly, Quercus, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's Univ. Belfast, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK. E-mail: ruth.kelly@qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Understanding how invasive species spread is of particular concern in the current era of globalisation and rapid environmental change. The occurrence of super-diffusive movements within the context of Lévy flights has been discussed with respect to particle physics, human movements, microzooplankton, disease spread in global epidemiology and animal foraging behaviour. Super-diffusive movements provide a theoretical explanation for the rapid spread of organisms and disease, but their applicability to empirical data on the historic spread of organisms has rarely been tested. This study focuses on the role of long-distance dispersal in the invasion dynamics of aquatic invasive species across three contrasting areas and spatial scales: open ocean (north-east Atlantic), enclosed sea (Mediterranean) and an island environment (Ireland). Study species included five freshwater plant species, Azolla filiculoides, Elodea canadensis, Lagarosiphon major, Elodea nuttallii and Lemna minuta; and ten species of marine algae, Asparagopsis armata, Antithamnionella elegans, Antithamnionella ternifolia, Codium fragile, Colpomenia peregrina, Caulerpa taxifolia, Dasysiphonia sp., Sargassum muticum, Undaria pinnatifida and Womersleyella setacea. A simulation model is constructed to show the validity of using historical data to reconstruct dispersal kernels. Lévy movement patterns similar to those previously observed in humans and wild animals are evident in the re-constructed dispersal pattern of invasive aquatic species. Such patterns may be widespread among invasive species and could be exacerbated by further development of trade networks, human travel and environmental change. These findings have implications for our ability to predict and manage future invasions, and improve our understanding of the potential for spread of organisms including infectious diseases, plant pests and genetically modified organisms.

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