Prediction and biological invasions
In a review written largely from the animal perspective, Lodge1 summarizes much recent biological invasion literature and concludes his lessons for ecology by suggesting that predictions ’will emerge only from focused studies of particular potential invaders and target communities’. Due to the presently poor predictive ability of community ecology even for well-studied systems, the added predictive power gained from intensive study (beyond taking into account basic natural history of the potential invader) is questionable, especially considering the enormous monetary costs involved in such studies. Here, we elaborate a few approaches from the study of plant invaders that may aid in prediction, but that seem under-used in the more general biological invasion literature... Reply from David Lodge: In their constructive response to my review, Daehler and Strong suggest that my recommendation to intensively study potential invaders and target communities would lead to research with a high cost:benefit ratio, where benefit equals increased predictive ability. The emphasis on ’focused’ studies in my concluding statement seems to have stimulated their reply. However, on p. 136 I pointed out ’... invasions can be profitably studied with correlative approaches, mathematical models and experimental microcosms’. I think we are simply emphasizing different parts of an overall strategy to identify species with a high probability of invasion success.