Bethany Bradley, Environmental Conservation, Wins Mercer Award from Ecological Society of America
“It’s an amazing feeling,” says Bethany Bradley, “to have someone read your paper and say, ‘this is good paper.’” It’s even more amazing when that someone happens to be the judge of the George Mercer Award, a prize given by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) to the authors of an “outstanding, recently published, ecological research paper by young scientists.”
Bradley’s study, “Disentangling the abundance–impact relationship for invasive species,” which was coauthored by an international cast of ecologists in 2019, was the first global meta-analysis of the characteristics and size of invasive species’ impacts on native species as the invasives become more abundant. The paper is also the first meta-analysis, or analysis of other papers written on the subject, to win the prestigious Mercer Award. In Bradley’s case, she and her coauthors examined 1258 studies, and discovered, in the words of the ESA’s judges, “striking general pattern across trophic levels: invasive species’ impacts on lower trophic levels increase steeply but nonlinearly with their abundances, so that per-capita impact declines with increasing invader abundance, while invasive species’ impacts within their own trophic level increase less steeply and linearly with their abundances.”
Bradley’s work, which was initiated during a meeting funded by the Borchard Foundation, benefitted immensely from its international cast. “Opportunities for open-ended collaboration lead to really exciting science,” says Bradley, “and now I have fantastic collaborators in France, Spain and the UK.”
The team is doubling down on their award-winning research, and in the near future will be following up with papers modelling how global climate change will alter the landscape of risk from invasive species.