How do we quantify the impact of species invasions on an ecosystem, and when do we know that human intervention is necessary to protect ecosystem function from a species invasion?
I am a field researcher with a background in herpetology and entomology, as well as experience in exotic animal husbandry. My previous work with generalist species has guided me to a new facet of research: invasive species. I am interested in how non-native species impact native fauna through direct and indirect competition, as well as predation, and quantifying this impact to ultimately help inform policy to protect fragile ecosystems. My present work is focusing on the invasive raccoon dogs of Yakushima Island, a biodiversity rich UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Japan, and their role in affecting the fragile native environment through predation of endemic and endangered species, competition for food with the only native small carnivore - the endemic subspecies of Yakushima weasel, and through the spread of parasites. While they are vectors of a vast range of parasites, raccoon dogs have been identified as particularly susceptible to trematode infections in parts of their invasive range. I aim to explore the role of raccoon dogs as vectors of trematode species on Yakushima Island.