Can Cognitive Ability Give Invasive Species the Means to Succeed? A Review of the Evidence

Szabo, Birgit; Damas-Moreira, Isabel; Whiting, Martin J. (2020). Can Cognitive Ability Give Invasive Species the Means to Succeed? A Review of the Evidence (In Press). Frontiers in ecology and evolution, 8(187) Frontiers Media 10.3389/fevo.2020.00187

[img]
Preview
Text
fevo-08-00187.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (622kB) | Preview

Invasive species are a global conservation problem that have an enormous economic cost. Understanding the attributes of invasive species and what makes them successful at colonizing and flourishing in novel environments is therefore essential for preventing and ameliorating their negative impact. Learning ability and behavioral flexibility—the ability to adjust behavior flexibly when conditions change including to learn to solve novel problems or existing problems in a novel way, are thought to play a key role during invasions although cognitive ability is rarely considered in studies of invasive species. We begin by reviewing the evidence that flexible learning and problem solving can influence invasion success in both invertebrates and vertebrates. We also review brain size as an index of cognitive ability with respect to invasion success. We then focus on the specific attributes of cognition that are likely to be important for species entering novel
environments as they learn the location of resources (e.g., food, shelter), and as they encounter and interact with conspecifics, heterospecifics, and potential predators. We suggest that enhanced spatial learning ability in conjunction with behavioral flexibility are likely to be adaptive. Furthermore, good memory retention and the ability to learn from others (both conspecifics and heterospecifics) are beneficial. Finally, we suggest future directions for studying the link between cognition, fitness, and invasion success. Studies of closely related “invasive” and “non-invasive” species, as well as invasive populations and their source, should provide important baseline information about the potential role of cognitive ability in determining invasion success. We also advocate an experimental approach. In particular, we borrow methods from experimental evolutionary ecology. We suggest that experimental studies in which potential invasive species can be assayed for behavior and their cognitive ability measured prior to population-level release on small islands will help inform us about the potential role of cognitive ability in determining the fitness of invasive species. The idea that cognitive ability may determine invasion success is only now starting to gain traction. This is a rich field worthy of further study that will help us better understand what makes a successful invasive species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Szabo, Birgit

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

2296-701X

Publisher:

Frontiers Media

Funders:

[UNSPECIFIED] Macquarie University ; [UNSPECIFIED] Australian Research Council

Language:

English

Submitter:

Birgit Szabo

Date Deposited:

11 Nov 2020 15:49

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2021 22:17

Publisher DOI:

10.3389/fevo.2020.00187

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.147977

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/147977

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback