Community Resistance to Plant Invasions


Type : PhD (2005-2009)

Fund : Swiss National Fundation


Description : 

Biological invasions are considered as one of the major threat to ecosystems and biodiversity.

A biological invasion is the result of the introduction of a species with a high invasive potential (invasiveness) in a community with weak resistance ability (invasibility). Most studies in ecological invasions have focused on either invasiveness or invasibility, but hardly both together. By being integrated in a complete project shared between four research teams which focus on one common species (Centaurea maculosa Lam), this thesis project aims at a better understanding of both invasiveness and invasibility mechanisms.

In the COMIN project, we use two taxonomically related model species Senecio inaequidens and Centaurea maculosa. The two model species encountered polyploidisation, leading to the coexistence of diploid and tetraploid genotypes in the native range. However, only tetraploid genotypes were found in the introduced range so far. By working with native diploid, native tetraploid and introduced tetraploid genotypes, we aimed at understanding role of genetic variation and of ecological processes in the invasion success of these two worldwide invasive species.

The first part of the project assesses invasiveness of the two species (pot and common garden experiments) while the second part focuses on small scale patterns of community resistance (field experiment, artificial communties).

This project should help understanding relative importance of species traits and community traits on invasion success, mixing both ecological and evolutionary approaches


Keywords : 

Invasiveness, invasibility, evolutionary processes, ecological processes, vegetation dynamics, spatial aggregation, functional traits, Senecio inaequidens, Centaurea maculosa


Collaboration : 

PhD student : A. Thébault

Supervisor : A. Buttler

Collaborators :


Partnership :

Study sites :

  • Aosta Valley, Italia
  • Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil Research Station ACW
  • University of Lausanne


Aurélie Thébault

Email : [email protected]


Office : GR B2 426

Phone  : [+41] 21 693 57 42