My primary interest lies in integrating community and invasion ecology to advance these fields of research and improve invasive species management. Ecological theory is founded on traditional manipulation experiments, where we attempt to understand processes of community assembly by removing individual system components and examining the outcome. However, even relatively recent assemblages in the northern United States represent collections of organisms that have had roughly 11,000 years to interact and assemble themselves. Thus, simple manipulation experiments cannot reveal the sequences of ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that serve to structure communities over time. Biological invasions represent unique natural experiments whereby a completely novel organism enters into a new system and either fails to establish, establishes with little effect or establishes and alters the recipient community in ways that forces it to reassemble. Hence, biological invasion events provide acid tests for ecological theory by illustrating processes of community assembly and reassembly in real time. Such experiments provide unique research opportunities to simultaneously advance ecological theory and improve invasive species management.
Soils, Plants and Invasion
Dean E. Pearson, Özkan Eren, Yvette K. Ortega, José L. Hierro, Birsen Karakuş, Sascha Kala, Lorinda Bullington, Ylva Lekberg (2022). Combining biogeographical approaches to advance invasion ecology and methodology. Journal of Ecology 10.1111/1365-2745.13945.
Dean E. Pearson, Tyler J. Clark, Philip G. Hahn (2021). Evaluating unintended consequences of intentional species introductions and eradications for improved conservation management. Conservation Biology 12, 3484 https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13734.