, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1169-1180
Date: 29 Nov 2012

Associations of invasive alien species and other threats to IUCN Red List species (Chordata: vertebrates)

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Abstract

Apart from acting synergistically or additively, threats to species may be associated or disassociated. Here we link global data on threatened Chordata species, mainly birds, mammals, and amphibians, with a probabilistic methodology to test whether the impact from invasive alien species co-occurs purely randomly, associated, or disassociated with impact from nine other major threats to biodiversity listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List database. Impacts from several of the other threats, in particular from natural disasters, are associated with the impact from invasive alien species. Three of the threats of anthropogenic origin, namely habitat loss, harvesting, and human disturbance, co-occur randomly with impact from invaders, and we suggest several explanations to this unexpected relationship, such as ambiguous evidence for associations between them and human-induced disturbances. Impact from invasive alien predators has a strong association with impact from native predators, indicating that similarity in autecology affects co-occurrences between threats. The threat from invasive predators is disassociated from intrinsic factors on islands, probably because species suffering from for instance inbreeding problems have low densities and rarely encounter invasive alien predators. The analysis of co-occurrence of impact from invasive alien species and other threats is a first step to understand and mitigate vulnerability of a community to the simultaneous exposure to invasive alien species and other threats. Association or disassociation between threats may depend on correlations between exposures and sensitivity to the threats or on the presence of one threat increasing or decreasing the sensitivity to another.