Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 913–923 | Cite as

Climate change can reduce the risk of biological invasion by reducing propagule size

  • David R. GrayEmail author
Original Paper


Climate change has been conclusively linked to species extinctions, and to expansion and contractions and shifts of species ranges. Climate change is exerting similarly profound pressures on the individual stages of biological invasion which can significantly impact the biodiversity and ecology of invaded areas. Propagule pressure is perhaps the single most important determinant of invasion success, but the effects of climate change on propagule pressure are still largely uncertain because we have few observations of introduction events (or their size) that can be analyzed together with climate records. The common surrogate variables for propagule pressure do not logically respond to climate. Here I use a process-based simulation model to examine the potential effects of climate change (specifically temperature) on propagule size of a common invading insect species by estimating in-transit survivorship rate of propagules using historical and future (projected) temperatures and two common trade routes between a donor and a recipient location (Yokohama, Japan and Sydney, Australia). Propagule size (=the number of individuals in an introduction event) was lower under climate change temperatures than under historical temperatures in both routes. The route had significant effects on propagule size through its influence on the duration (and also the timing) of exposure to temperature conditions that are of time-sensitive importance to the development of the invasive species. Under historical temperatures propagule size was higher and less variable in the direct than the indirect route in 20 independent iterations. Under the future temperatures propagule size was also higher in the direct route but it was more variable than in the indirect route. Increased trade is increasing the opportunities for introductions, but the results reported here suggest that climate change will have inconsistent effects on biological invasion because of the complex relationship between temperature and insect ontogeny.


Climate change Biological invasion Introduction Propagule pressure Trade Asian gypsy moth Diapause International trade 



The author is grateful to Drs. G. Castilla, P. C. Tobin, J. A. Braine and E. Moise for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft. The author is especially grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their exceptionally helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canadian Forest Service – Atlantic Forestry CentreNatural Resources CanadaFrederictonCanada

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