PhD Biological Sciences, 2007. Lancaster University, UK
MSc Ecology, 2002. Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Licenciatura Biology, 1998. Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Soil Ecology and Invasion Processes of Acacia longifolia in the Nature Reserve Dunas de S. Jacinto - Interactions between Plants, Rhizobia and Plant-parasitic Nematodes (Post Doc Grant)
The exotic legume Acacia longifolia, is an invasive plant that colonises approximately 80% of the inland dune system in the Nature Reserve Dunas de S. Jacinto and excludes the native legumes such as Ulex europaeus. Conversely, in New South Wales, Australia, A. longifolia is a native plant and U. europaeus is an invasive exotic considered a Weed of National Significance. The mechanisms that lead to invasion by exotic plants are still largely unknown, although it is thought that biotic interactions may play an important role in such processes. Plant mutualists such as mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia, as well as plant antagonists like plant-parasitic nematodes and pathogenic fungi may directly affect plant distribution and diversity. However, these organisms are also known to interact with each others, indirectly affecting the success of plant populations. Research is being conducted to investigate the direct and indirect effects of soil antagonists (plant parasitic nematodes and pathogenic fungi), mutualists (mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia) and nematode microbial enemies on growth of A. longifolia and U. europaeus both in their native and exotic roles. The potential of rhizobial associations in inducing plant defence against plant-parasitic nematodes will be further explored using proteomic analysis.
What Turns a Quiet Alien into a Powerful Invader? An assessment of introduction history and invasive plant traits (III/62/2008 - PI)
Vascular plants are among the most ubiquitous invaders of the biosphere. Unlike natives, alien (“non-native” or “exotic”) plants owe their presence to direct or indirect activities of humans. Although some are introduced accidentally, most have been deliberately introduced for agricultural, sylvicultural, ornamental, or medicinal purposes.
Almeida and Freitas list the presence of more than 550 vascular exotic species in Portugal, belonging to 113 families, which represent some 17% of the total Portuguese flora. Almost 40% of the listed species are actually or potentially invasive, including agricultural weeds and invaders of natural habitats, and ca. 7% are considered dangerous invaders.
We will complete the dataset of exotic species compiled by Almeida and Freitas (2006) with plant functional traits and tentatively relate invasiveness back to date, strategy and purpose of introduction. Our work will focus on the coastal areas of central Portugal. The critical questions in this research project are: what attributes make invasive species successful and why do only some introduced species become invasive? Does invasiveness depend on introduction history? What habitats are most threatened by invasion?
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