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TU Berlin

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Testing invasion mechanisms of red quinine (Cinchona pubescens) in Galápagos

Although biological invasions can pose significant threats to species diversity, there is still only limited knowledge of the mechanisms underlying invasive species impacts. Knowledge of these mechanisms is particularly crucial in developing a management plan for the control or eradication of invasive species and for nature conservation. This research project investigates the underlying mechanisms of the rapid invasion in Galápagos ecosystems by the introduced tree Cinchona pubescens. Cinchona (syn. C. succirubra, red quinine tree) was introduced to the Galápagos Islands in the 1940s and now covers over 11,000 ha in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where it competes with resident plant and animal species. This project will investigate (a) what impact shading has on the documented decline of plant species cover, (b) whether bare ground patches created by the Cinchona invasion will subsequently be colonised by other introduces species, and (c) whether the association of Cinchona with micorrhizal fungi is facilitating the invasion.

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