To coincide with its Annual Research Meeting, the Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) supported a
workshop focusing on the “Drivers, mechanisms, impacts and adaptations” of insect invasions through looking
at agricultural pests, biocontrol agents, vectors of human disease and threats to ecosystems.
The workshop, which was held on the 24th - 26th of November 2014 in Stellenbosch, brought
together a diverse group of national and international scientists across different aspects of entomological and biological invasions
research to discuss what makes insect invasions unique, and where future research efforts should be focused.
The workshop, titled “Drivers, mechanisms and impacts of insect invasions”, was structured
around four themes: (1) drivers of insect invasions including introduction pathways, dispersal and propagule pressure; (2) mechanisms
of invasion including theories surrounding functional traits and life histories; (3) the impacts of insect invasions for agriculture,
human health and ecosystem functioning; (4) and where adaptations facilitating successful invasion and range expansion are likely to
occur during the invasion process.
More than 35 delegates attended the workshop, including leaders in the field of entomology and invasion biology, senior
academics and postgraduate students. Plenary speaker, Sandy Liebhold from the United States of Agriculture Forest Service, set the
scene of the workshop giving an overview and historic context. Helen Roy (Biological Records Centre, UK), Alain Roques (Institut
National de la Recherche Agronomique, France), Richard Duncan (University of Canberra, Australia) and Carla Sgro (Monash University,
Australia) gave keynote talks, tackling the themes of impacts, mechanisms, drivers and adaptation, respectively.
“The workshop was transformational in its accomplishments. This was the first workshop in my memory that has
focused exclusively on insect invasions. As such, the workshop motivated participants to start thinking about basic questions that we
had never thought about before. Looking back, I think that the workshop will mark a turning point in our understanding of insect
invasions worldwide” said Sandy Liebhold.
The workshop met with the goals of reviewing insect invasions and identifying specific key topics to prepare both a
review paper and a special journal issue for 2015. Themes such as taxonomic knowledge gaps, detection of new invasions and ecological
impacts were all identified as key components requiring more attention in this field.
“This workshop allowed for some really fruitful discussions about a group that has been underrepresented in
the field of invasion biology. The products and the network formed at this workshop really set a platform to advance our understanding
of insect invasions” said Matt Hill.
C·I·B postdoctoral fellow Matt Hill, together with C·I·B researchers, John Terblanche and
Susana Clusella-Trullas, organised the workshop. Financial support for the workshop was provided by the Centre for Invasion Biology
(C·I·B), the National Research Foundation (NRF), Hortgro and the
Stellenbosch University’s Vice Rector of Research Office.
Attendees at the C·I·B supported workshop, “Drivers, mechanisms and impacts of insect
invasions”, held on the 24th - 26th of November 2014, in Stellenbosch. (Photo credit: Susana