Invasion Ecology Group


Research Group Leader: Dr. Elizabeta Briski


Tel.: 0431 600 1589
Raum: 1.305
E-Mail: ebriski(a)

Personal Homepage

GEOMAR | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel
Experimental Ecology
Wischhofstraße 1-3
24148 Kiel


As the rate of species invasions increases globally, it is essential to determine the origins and transport vectors that have facilitated their range expansions. Accurate identification of the source populations and associated transport vectors enables development of management strategies and prevention of new invasions. It also allows the formation and testing of hypotheses related to fundamental tenets of invasion ecology - importance of genetic diversity, hybridization, or enemy release as mechanisms underlying invasion success. In many cases, non-indigenous species undergo major habitat transitions and so understanding genetic and phenotypic responses can shed new light on the ability of colonizing species to adapt rapidly during range expansions. Given the widespread native ranges of many non-indigenous species, coupled with the difficulty involved using traditional taxonomy for their identification, phylogeographic studies and molecular identification of species can be of benefit in tackling many of the above problems.

Resistance to multiple stressors facilitates establishment of non-indigenous species in new habitats. The same resistance may enable species to survive in habitats highly affected by global warming (e.g., increased temperature, often heat-waves, elevated pCO2, and lowered pH). Consequently, non-indigenous species may be predisposed to flourish in the future global warming scenario, while species proved tolerant to changes connected with global warming may become non-indigenous species in the future, leading to further homogenization of taxa globally. Therefore, concurrent research on non-indigenous species and global change are of great importance.

We are interested in a broad variety of questions pertaining to invasion biology and global change ecology. Our current work focuses on examining if species from particular regions (e.g., Ponto-Caspian area) have inherent advantages over other species in colonizing new areas. Our research also covers community dynamics of taxa during transport stage of invasion process, and in particular, changes in propagule and colonization pressures of invertebrates and phytoplankton transported in ships’ ballast tanks. This work also leads to an interest in the natural dispersal of aquatic organisms and genetic mechanisms underlying adaptive responses of these organisms to novel environments and stresses.

Scientific Interests

  • Invasion Ecology: invasion theory, transport vectors and pathways, adaptation of introduced taxa to novel environments, community dynamics of invaded habitats
  • Global Change Ecology: preadaptation and adaptation of taxa to ecosystem changes
  • Marine and Freshwater Ecology: invertebrate ecology, community ecology, biodiversity


  • importance of geographic origin for invasion success
  • invasion risk and impacts of NIS under current and future global warming scenarios
  • economic costs of NIS
  • potential NIS from the pet trade
  • selection for populations with high invasion potential
  • impacts of Crassostrea gigas on native communities in the eastern Adriatic Sea
  • human mediated transport of NIS
  • impacts of aquaculture, artificial structures and pollution on aquatic communities
  • impact of heat waves on aquatic communities