Ecology

Tough life in the tropics

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
494,
Page:
285
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/494285e
Published online

The tropics host a much smaller number of invasive species than temperate regions, possibly because predation in the tropics is more intense.

AMY FREESTONE

Amy Freestone of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and her colleagues conducted field experiments off the coast of Connecticut and Panama. They allowed populations of non-native tunicates (pictured) — sessile marine creatures also known as sea squirts — to grow on plastic plates, blocked predators such as crabs and fish from reaching some of the plates, and looked at the effects of predation on species richness. Predated plates in the tropics had fewer non-native tunicate species than those in temperate areas.

The results generally support the idea that food webs in the tropics are more diverse and interconnected than those in temperate latitudes, making it harder for non-native species to establish themselves.

Ecology http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-1382.1 (2013)

Additional data

More Research Highlights