Changes in pathways and vectors of biological invasions in Northwest Europe

Abstract

We assessed how establishment patterns of non-native freshwater, marine and terrestrial species into Northwest Europe (using Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands as the study countries) have changed over time, and identified the prevalent pathways and vectors of recent arrivals. Data were extracted from 33 sources on (a) presence/absence and (b) first year of observation in the wild in each country, and (c) continent(s) of origin, (d) invasion pathway(s), (e) invasion vector(s) and (f) environment(s) for 359 species, comprising all non-native Mollusca, Osteichthyes (bony fish), Anseriformes (wildfowl) and Mammalia, and non-native invasive Angiospermae present in the area. Molluscs, fish and wildfowl, particularly those originating from South America, arrived more recently into Northwest Europe than other groups, particularly mammals, invasive plants and species originating from North America. Non-deliberate introductions, those of aquatic species and those from elsewhere in Europe and/or Asia increased strongly in importance after the year 2000 and were responsible for 69, 83 and 89 % of new introductions between 2001 and 2015, respectively. Non-deliberate introductions and those from Asia and North America contributed significantly more to introductions of invasive species in comparison to other non-native species. From the 1960s, ornamental trade has increased in importance relative to other vectors and was responsible for all deliberate introductions of study groups since 2001. Non-deliberate introductions of freshwater and marine species originating from Southeast Europe and Asia represent an increasingly important ecological and economic threat to Northwest Europe. Invertebrates such as molluscs may be particularly dangerous due to their small size and difficulties in detection. Prevention of future invasions in this respect will require intensive screening of stowaways on boats and raising of public awareness.

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Acknowledgments

Research leading to this study was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the EU co-funded Interreg 2Seas project RINSE (reducing the impact of non-native species in Europe; www.rinse-europe.eu), which seeks to improve awareness of the threats posed by INNS, and the methods to address them. AZ and BG received financial support from RINSE. AZ is supported by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. BG holds a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (JCI-2012-11908). We are grateful to RINSE colleagues for their contribution during the data review stage (in alphabetical order): Tim Adriaens, Catherine Chatters, Patrick Crestot, Kim De Bus, Dieter Depraetere, Céline Fontaine, Cindy Fournier, Melanie Gillings, Ans Mouton, Jonathan Newman, Corin Pratt, Dick Shaw, Sofie Standaert and Karel van Moer.

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Correspondence to Alexandra Zieritz.

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Simon J. Baker—Retired.

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Zieritz, A., Gallardo, B., Baker, S.J. et al. Changes in pathways and vectors of biological invasions in Northwest Europe. Biol Invasions 19, 269–282 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1278-z

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Keywords

  • Freshwater
  • Invasive
  • Marine
  • Non-native
  • Pathways
  • Terrestrial