Date: June 19, 2019
Source: University College London
Published today in Nature, researchers show that alien bird introductions are most successful in locations and climates similar to their native habitats and in places where other alien species are already established.
The discovery is important for understanding the processes that help or hinder species moving between locations, and the next steps for predicting and limiting the threat of future biological invasions.
As human activity continues to reshape the world, alien species are becoming more of a problem through their negative impacts, including agricultural damage, the spread of disease and expensive damage to infrastructure.
They are also impacting on native species with an estimated third of animal extinctions worldwide and a quarter of plant extinctions since 1500 thought to be driven in part by alien species.
"We know alien species are the main driver of recent extinctions in both animals and plants so there is a clear and urgent need for better biosecurity measures to prevent or mitigate the impact of future invasions and protect endangered native species," explained first author Dr David Redding (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment).
"With increased global trade, more species are being transported around the world either purposefully or as stowaways, which creates more opportunities for alien species to establish themselves in new habitats."
The team from UCL, ZSL, University of Utah, Koç University and the University of Queensland, used birds as a model system for other wildlife. They analysed 4,346 global invasion events spanning 708 species to see which factors enabled the birds to thrive in their new habitat.