VECTORS was a large EU FP7 funded project which started in February 2011 and finished in January 2015. It consisted of 37 project partners from a variety of research institutions across Europe. The project elucidated the drivers and pressures that cause change in marine life, the mechanisms by which they do so, their impacts on ecosystem structures and functioning and on the economics of associated marine sectors and society. It particularly focused on causes and consequences of invasive alien species, outbreak forming species and changes in fish distribution and productivity.
The University of St Andrews was involved in Work Package 3.1 which was split into three sections; a systematic review, Biological Traits Analysis (BTA) and a case study:-
The systematic reviews focusd on impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of invasive alien species, outbreaking indigenous species and changes in distribution and productivity. These reviews addressed the impacts of the selected mechanisms on a range of biodiversity components and on measures of ecosystem functioning.
Biological Traits Analysis was applied to existing data sets to produce trait based assessments of ecosystem functioning for selected ecosystems. The focus was on predicting the impact of changes in assemblage structure caused by outbreaks of indigenous species and invasive aliens on the functional capacity of the ecosystem.
The case study experimentally tested the impact of Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis) on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Experiments examined a variety of response variables (e.g. biodiversity, trophic structure and primary productivity) to establish the influence of crabs on ecosystem function (sediment destabilisation, erosion and burrow formation) in synthetic assemblages to reveal the progressive effect on the ecosystem as the crab becomes established.
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