, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 411-423

Invasive aliens on tropical East Asian islands

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Tropical East Asia (TEA) has numerous islands, both continental and oceanic. This study uses information on invasive aliens in terrestrial habitats on these islands to test the generality of the continental-oceanic contrast in invasibility, assess the conservation impacts of invasive species, and suggest ways to mitigate these. The continental islands of Hong Kong and Singapore are worst-case scenarios for continental invasibility and alien species often dominate in chronically disturbed sites, but very few have successfully invaded closed forests, with the exception of birds in Hong Kong. On other, less densely populated, continental islands, closed-canopy forests appear to resist invasions by all taxa, with few known exceptions. Forests on oceanic islands isolated by <100 km during the last glacial maximum appear no more susceptible to plant and invertebrate invasions than those on continental islands, but invasions by mammals are widespread. Snake invasions may be under-recognized. The remote oceanic Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, >1000 km from the nearest continent, have a native biota of largely tropical East Asian origin and are suffering from alien forest invasions across the taxonomic spectrum. These patterns of invasibility are consistent with the idea that alien invasion is facilitated by the absence of native species in the same functional group. Alien invasives are not yet a major conservation problem in TEA, except on remote islands, but their dominance on disturbed sites may slow or prevent recovery of native biodiversity. Strict quarantine is impractical in TEA, although some major introduction routes could be blocked. Management efforts should focus on early recognition and immediate control of potential problem species.