George Mercer Award: Bethany A. Bradley, Brit B. Laginhas, Raj Whitlock, Jenica M. Allen, Amanda E. Bates, Genevieve Bernatchez, Jeff Diez, Regan Early, Jonathan Lenoir, Montserrat Vilà, Cascade J. B. Sorte

The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding, recently published, ecological research paper by young scientists.

This year’s Mercer Award goes to the authors of “Disentangling the abundance–impact relationship for invasive species.” This paper is the first meta-analysis to win the Mercer Award. Meta-analyses have become an important ecological research tool since their introduction into ecology in the early 1990s, and the work by Bethany A. Bradley and colleagues identified a novel general pattern that likely could not have been discovered or confirmed except via meta-analysis. Their comprehensive global meta-analysis of 1258 studies addresses how the impacts of invasive species scale with their abundances. The analysis revealed 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. Their findings are valuable for managers, who need to decide whether it is worthwhile to attempt eradication of undesirable invasive species.

Disentangling the abundance–impact relationship for invasive speciesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(20), 9919-9924. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1818081116