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Biological Invasions

  • Teacher(s):   C.Bertelsmeier  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 1.5 credits
  • Schedule: Spring Semester 2020-2021, 1.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
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  1. Explain core theory and concepts underlying the spread and impacts of invasive species
  2. Critically assess the current debate about invasive organisms (semantic, social, economic, biological..)
  3. Understand how globalization leads to the accelerating dynamics of species ranging from viruses to mammals
  4. Understand the characteristics of invasive species and vulnerable ecosystems
  5. Discuss the interactions between biological invasions and other drivers of global change such as climate change


Biological invasions are considered one of the most important global threats to biodiversity. Understanding the processes shaping the success of species outside of their native ranges is therefore a major goal of conservation research. In this course, we elucidate the main hypotheses explaining the success and spread of invasive species, while insisting on current controversies and future research questions. Specifically, we will address:

- The different stages of the invasion process (transport, establishment, spread, impacts)

- Impacts and case studies of some of the worst invasive species

- Mechanisms of invasions

- Socio-economic aspects

- The role of rapid adaptation in the invasion process

- Species interactions, enemy release, community structure

- Large scale patterns and dynamics

- Interactions with other drivers of global change


Schedule details :


First attempt

Without exam (cf. terms)  


The assessment will be based on a presentation.

Students may choose between:

  1. A case study: Students will choose a specific invasive species (plant, animal, bacteria, fungi, bird, fish, etc.) that is of particular interest to you, for example, one that is having a direct impact on your hometown. Students should present the distribution, invasion history, how/why the species has impacts, current findings and future research questions that could addressed using the species as a model system, and possible management of the species.
  2. A commentary of a recent major paper in invasion biology. Students will choose a paper and describe what was done, why this paper is of particular importance to the field relative to previous work on the question, what its limitations are and how those could be addressed in the future.

In both cases, students should use a minimum of 5 peer-reviewed literature sources.


Without exam (cf. terms)  


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