News

2022/09/28+29: Second annual bio.invasions macroecology retreat

This autumn our working group met for two days of exchange and the introduction of many new group members. The discussion was centered around two major points: (1) "Novel environmental conditions and their impacts on projecting future species distributions" and (2) "How do biological invasions differ between taxa and are they dependent on habitat context?" The meeting took place in the beautiful Hainburg an der Donau, close to the national park Donau-Auen that harbours one of the last large remnants of lowland riparian habitats in Europe.

2022/09/26: Austrian biodiversity strategy - failures and opportunities

Austrias biodiversity strategy is currently being formulated and for this purpose, "der Standard" (an Austrian newspaper) sat down with Franz Essl to talk about the ongoing biodiversity crisis and the considerable room for improvement when it comes to Austrian biodiversity policy. He answers questions regarding the lack of funding for land owners who want to manage their land in accordance with conservation guidelines, suggests a fee for "nature destruction" that would make its cost tangible and emphasizes that the ressources we are using will not be available for much longer.

article on derstandard.at (German)

2022/08/18: Two new publications out now - Factors that influcene survival of alien plants & Positive effects of alien plant invasions?

International research teams with the participation of the University of Vienna now investigated in two comprehensive studies which factors are decisive for the survival of introduced plants and whether such species cannot sometimes also have positive effects. The new scientific findings were published in the journals Nature Plants and Plos Biology - for more infos see the links below.

2022/08/22-26: New species gaining ground - Broadcast series with Franz Essl in the Ö1 radio show "Vom Leben der Natur" [German]

From Monday, 22nd August, to Friday, 26th August, the popular series "Vom Leben der Natur" in Ö1 (Austrian public radio) will feature BioInvasions group leader Franz Essl talking about "new species gaining ground", by using well-known examples of biological invasions to outline their complex and often unforeseen consequences and how they affect society. The interviews are available online for 30 days after release and each interview is accompanied by an online article - see the links below:

Part 1: The role of human agency
Part 2: Documented first records
Part 3: Windmill palms in Austria
Part 4: Islands and coasts as hotspots for new arrivals
Part 5: Future scenarios of biological invasions

2022/08/18: Two new publications out now - Factors that influcene survival of alien plants & Positive effects of alien plant invasions?

International research teams with the participation of the University of Vienna now investigated in two comprehensive studies which factors are decisive for the survival of introduced plants and whether such species cannot sometimes also have positive effects. The new scientific findings were published in the journals Nature Plants and Plos Biology - for more infos see the links below.

2022/07/08: Poster prize for Anna Schertler at the 6th World Lagomorph Conference in Montpellier, France

At the 6th World Lagomorph Conference in Montpellier (France), BioInvasions team member Anna Schertler, who also studies at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), won one of the three desired poster prizes. With her contribution "Distribution ranges and ecological niches of leporids in Africa and Near East" she convinced the more than 100 participants from 28 countries. Together with her, the co-authors and Master's thesis supervisors Klaus Hackländer (left) and Paulo C. Alves (right) were delighted. We congratulate her!


2022/06/20: Global biodiversity goals: Scientists call for rapid implementation of a "Green Marshall Plan

An international team of more than 50 scientists, including researchers from the University of Vienna, among them Franz Essl, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), is calling on governments to adopt measures to end the biodiversity crisis at the upcoming important UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Kunming, China. To achieve this, the researchers identified several key measures, presented as basis for a "Green Marshall Plan".

Full press release (in german)

Full article, published in One Earth (in english)

2022/04/26: Studienassistenz (m/w/d) gesucht: Mitarbeit im UniNETZ II - Projekt

Die ausgeschriebene Stelle als Studienassistenz (m/w/d) innerhalb des UniNETZ II Projekts hat einen Umfang von 20 Wochenstunden und wird vorerst auf max. 2 Jahre ausgeschrieben. Der/die erfolgreiche Kanditat/in wird in enger Zusammenarbeit mit Bernd Lenzner und Franz Essl vom Department für Botanik und Biodiversitätsforschung der Universität Wien an der Ausgestaltung des SDG 15 "Leben an Land" mitwirken. Der Fokus hier liegt auf dem Schutz und der nachhaltigen Nutzung von Landökosystemen, nachhaltiger Waldwirtschaft, und der Umkehr des Rückgangs der biologischen Vielfalt.

BewerberInnen schicken bitte ein kurzes Motivationsschreiben (ca. ½ Seite) und einen aussagekräftigen Lebenslauf an bernd.lenzner@univie.ac.at. Die Stelle ist so lange ausgeschrieben, bis sie besetzt wird. Eine frühzeitige Besetzung der Stelle wird jedoch angestrebt, daher sind Bewerbungen bis zum 15. Mai 2022 erbeten.
Zusätzliche Informationen sind in der Stellenausschreibung.


2022/04/06 Introducing our new PostDoc Ali Omer

Ali Omer, who stayed with us for several months last year, recently finished his PhD at the University of Konstanz. He now joined our group, exploring interactions of global change and alien plant species distributions:


"Through alternating the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystems, climate change and anthropogenic activities have been essential drivers of biological invasion. The interaction between these global changes and the distribution of alien species is expected to be more complex in the future. I try to understand how non-native vascular plants respond to these global changes."

2022/04/06 Introducing PhD candidate Ekin Kaplan
"The main focus of my work are the interactions of alien plant species with biodiversity metrics and global drivers using both spatial and temporal scales. While I have fieldwork experience, I am now mostly working with a data driven approach. Within the bioinvasions-team, I will work on the ReSurveyEurope project for the upcoming three years, focusing on “Trajectories of plant richness changes and underlying global change drivers.”

New paper detailing a standardized method to monitor alien plant species in mountainous regions!

The Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN) was founded in 2007 to further the understanding of the mechanisms underlying plant invasions in some of the harshest environments found on earth. Since then, the consortium has grown to a group of more than 50 researchers, who collectively manage 18 study regions across all six major continents.
Tom Vorstenbosch, together with Franz Essl and Bernd Lenzner, has established one such region in the Austrian Alps by documenting plant species along rivers and roads in plots ranging from the valley to the alpine meadows above the tree line. The results of the Austrian study were designed to be conform with data collected at other MIREN sites. Recently, this methodology has been published in the journal Ecology and Evolution. Thereby, allowing the protocol to be implemented in more mountain ranges which could lead to important insights for conservation efforts.

The article is open-access and can be read here .

Impatiens glandulifera, an invasive neophyte originating from the Himalayas, can often be found in the montane regions of the Austrian Alps.
Franz Essl contributes to post-2020 global biodiversity framework

As one of 50 international experts convened by bioDISCOVERY BioInvasions group leader, Franz Essl, provided input on a policy document puting forward a science perspective on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Figure 6 from the Expert Input into the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework illustrates the iterative cycle of monitoring and action guided by explanatory models and indicators

The group of scientists identified 8 key messages as well as supporting evidence on the implementation and achievement of framework goals. Alongside the more technical guidance, the Expert Input into the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework also includes plain-language summaries on the main points to make the document easily accessible to a wider public. The document was also featured by Nature.

New paper led by Adrián García in collaboration with colleagues from Mexico, Costa Rica and the US!

This study, recently published in Biotropica, assesses the potential impacts of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) on the rich diversity of Neotropical salamanders.

Four of the 320 species assessed in the study. A) Isthmura maxima (photo by Alejandro Calzada); B) Bolitoglossa alberchi (photo by Delia Basanta); C) Oedipina carablanca (photo by Brian Kubicki) and D) Bolitoglossa alvaradoi (photo by Victor Acosta).

Only described in 2013, Bsal causes salamander chytridiomycosis, a lethal skin disease, which has devastated fire salamander populations in the Netherlands and poses a major threat to other amphibians in to date unaffected regions.
Adrián and his colleagues predict the potential distribution of this pathogen on the American continent and describe the geographic patterns of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of Neotropical salamanders (>300 species). Based on this information they identified the regions and species that could be more strongly affected by a introduction of Bsal in the Neotropical region.

For more details, check the article here.

New publication on invasive mammals of European Union concern by Tedeschi et al!

A collaborative effort amongst the University of Vienna (Austria), Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), and the University of Lisbon (Portugal) led to a new article by Lisa Tedeschi and colleagues: "Introduction, spread, and impacts of invasive alien mammal species in Europe", published recently in Mammal Review.

The North American grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is spreading in Europe. (© Cesar Capinha)

It consists of a throughout systematic literature review on 16 species of invasive alien mammals of European Union concern and depicts pathways of introductions, reconstructs the temporal trajectories of mammal invasions, illustrates geographic distribution patterns, and investigates environmental and social impacts, with a focus on human health. Summarising current knowledge it shows that most of them reached Europe as pets, such as the Siberian chipmunk, or to be bred for fur. Invasive mammals exert negative impacts on biodiversity through different mechanisms: for instance, the grey squirrel outcompetes the red squirrel and can transmit a fatal virus to the autochthonous species, the coypu heavily alters wetland environments causing billions of euros of damages, and the American mink preys upon the endangered water vole.

More information can be also found in this press release of the University Vienna (German only!)
2021/11/16 - Franz Essl among world's most-cited researchers

Clarivate published its list of "Highly Cited Researchers 2021" on Tue, Nov 16th. Franz Essl, head of the bioinvasions group, is one of the 43 Austrian scientists listed. A listing means that he is among the top one percent cited within his discipline and this is the third consecutive year of making the list.

Kurier Article, Nov 16th
Clarivate list  
Open PhD Position - call for applications until 3rd December 2021!

Patterns and drivers of alien and native plant species in small-scale plant diversity changes in Europe

The Vienna Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution is offering a PhD-position, which is closely aligned to the BioInvasions. Global change. Macroecology Research Group at the University Vienna.
A successful candidate should have a strong interest in biological invasions, global change, botany (including good knowledge of the Central European Flora), macroecology, conservation science, and research questions that cross boundaries of disciplinary science.
Although it is widely acknowledged that we are in the midst of an unfolding extinction crisis, there still is a lack of understanding of the patterns and the underlying causes of historical diversity changes on fine spatial grains (e.g. relevés or plots). In Europe there is a wealth of vegetation-plot data that have been re-sampled with repeated measurements over time that were hitherto not yet mobilized. Recently, an initiative was launched that aims to mobilize such data and establish a collaborative initiative as a basis for robust assessments of biodiversity trends (ReSurvey Europe). This initiative includes time series with repeated sampling of the same plot.
The PhD-candidate will re-sample historic relevés from open vegetation (e.g. grasslands) in Austria, and combine the derived data with the unique data set of ReSurveyEurope. The candidate will further get access to GLONAF to study the contribution of alien species to plant community changes in Europe – this study will be done in close collaboration with colleagues from the Czech Republic. Subsequently, the PhD-candidate will analyse how biological invasions and other drivers (climate change, land use, airborne nitrogen deposition) affect plant species richness and composition at the same time. Such an analysis may reveal that negative effects of land use, climate change and nitrogen deposition on biodiversity might even be more severe than assumed because exchange of native by alien species partly masks the full extent of native species loss. The work will be executed in close collaboration with other teams working on analysing ReSurveyEurope data.
In summary, the PhD-candidate will address cutting-edge questions of eminent scientific and societal importance based on a novel data set, whilst collaborating with other teams involved in ReSurveyEurope. The BioInvasions . Global change . Macroecology Research Group collaborates closely with the Division of Conservation Biology, Vegetation Ecology and Landscape Ecology (CVL). Both units are dynamic teams, which work on a diverse set of topics with a focus on plant and vegetation responses to climate and land use change, biological invasions and landscape ecology.

The application of female applicants is particularly encouraged. This is a 3-year position. The salary will be according to the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) PhD salary. The applicant will collaborate closely with Franz Essl, Bernd Lenzner, Stefan Dullinger, and Dietmar Moser at the University of Vienna.

Application deadline is 03/12/2021.
Please follow the application guidelines of the VSDEE.
For further information, contact Franz Essl (franz.essl@univie.ac.at)

Master thesis opportunity - population dynamics of tropical amphibians

2021/09/29 - 2021/01/10 - GloNAF meeting in Hainburg a.d. Donau, Austria

This autumn the GloNAF team as well as collaborators and associated colleagues met for three days of intensive scientific exchange and fruitful discussions in an international atmosphere, with researchers from the University of Konstanz, University of Göttingen, iDiv German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Czech Academy of Sciences, Durham University and the University of Vienna. The meeting took place in the beautiful venue of Hainburg a.d. Donau, right next to the National Park Donau-Auen that harbours one of the last large remnants of lowland riparian habitats in Europe.

2021/10/14 - Introducing Guest Researcher Rosina Soler

Rosina Soler is visiting us from August 2021 to end of October 2021 - we look forward to exciting discussions and to strengthen this international collaboration. Welcome Rosina!

"I am from CONICET at Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. My research is focused on the impact of domestic and native herbivores on plant community dynamics in sub-atarctic Nothofagus forests, the balance between native/alien plants and the consequent implications for sustainable forest management in high-latitude forests."
2021/07/13 - Introducing Postdoctoral Researcher Adrián García

"Most of my research interests lie at the intersection of ecology, evolution, and biogeography. By integrating theory and tools from these fields, I try to better understand the historical processes that have shaped the contemporary distribution of life on Earth and the current pressures (e.g. emergent diseases, biological invasions and climate change) that can modify these biodiversity patterns"
2021/06/28 - Introducing PhD candidate Tom Vorstenbosch
"The islands of the sub-Antarctic are among the most remote on the planet. Despite this, alien species have managed to establish themselves. Early introductions go as far back as  the first European explorers stepping foot on their shores and continue to this day. I am working with the international ASICS team to protect these fragile ecosystems. This entails identifying plant species that currently have the potential to invade the sub-Antarctic, or might gain that ability under climate change."
2021/06/21 - Introducing Postdoctoral Researcher Daijun Liu

Daijun works in a project led by Stefan Dullinger (Division of Biodiversity Dynamics and Conservation, University Vienna) and is collaborating with the BioInvasions Team. He will be with us until 2022.

"I am mainly working on the impacts of global drivers (e.g. climate and land use changes) on species diversity and functions across organization levels (from individuals to ecosystems), spatial and temporal scales using the approaches of experiments, data compilation and models. Currently, the main research focuses on the interacting effects of land use and biological invasions on local biodiversity across taxonomic groups."
2021/06/14 - Introducing guest researcher Ali Omer
"While new potential plant invaders continue to arrive everywhere every year, little concern is paid to the many alien species that are already been cultivated and which may also have the potential to naturalize and become invasive. Using different approaches, we are trying to identify the characteristics that promote the naturalization success of cultivated flora of Southern Africa."
2020/02/11 - Contribution to the upcoming 2020 edition of the WWF's Living Planet Report

AlienScenarios will contribute to a chapter of the upcoming 2020 Living Planet Report called 'Imagining the future', which will feature the role of models and scenarios and is led by IIASA. This is a great opportunity to contribute to this comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity, to show how recent scientific advances now allows us to make projections and implement models exploring how humans may shape the future of biodiversity.