Assessing the relative potential ecological impacts and invasion risks of emerging and future invasive alien species

James W. E. Dickey, Ross N. Cuthbert, Michael Rea, Ciaran Laverty, Kate Crane, Josie South, Elizabeta Briski, Xuexiu Chang, Neil E. Coughlan, Hugh J. MacIsaac, Anthony Ricciardi, Gillian E. Riddell, Meng Xu, Jaimie T. A. Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Invasive alien species (IAS) cause myriad negative impacts, such as ecosystem disruption, human, animal and plant health issues, economic damage and species extinctions. There are many sources of emerging and future IAS, such as the poorly regulated international pet trade. However, we lack methodologies to predict the likely ecological impacts and invasion risks of such IAS which have little or no informative invasion history. This study develops the Relative Impact Potential (RIP) metric, a new measure of ecological impact that incorporates per capita functional responses (FRs) and proxies for numerical responses (NRs) associated with emerging invaders. Further, as propagule pressure is a determinant of invasion risk, we combine the new measure of Pet Propagule Pressure (PPP) with RIP to arrive at a second novel metric, Relative Invasion Risk (RIR). We present methods to calculate these metrics and to display the outputs on intuitive bi- and triplots. We apply RIP/RIR to assess the potential ecological impacts and invasion risks of four commonly traded pet turtles that represent emerging IAS: Trachemys scripta scripta, the yellow-bellied slider; T. s. troostii, the Cumberland slider; Sternotherus odoratus, the common musk turtle; and Kinosternon subrubrum, the Eastern mud turtle. The high maximum feeding rate and high attack rate of T. s. scripta, combined with its numerical response proxies of lifespan and fecundity, gave it the highest impact potential. It was also the second most readily available according to our UK surveys, indicating a high invasion risk. Despite having the lowest maximum feeding rate and attack rate, S. odoratus has a high invasion risk due to high availability and we highlight this species as requiring monitoring. The RIP/RIR metrics offer two universally applicable methods to assess potential impacts and risks associated with emerging and future invaders in the pet trade and other sources of future IAS. These metrics highlight T. s. scripta as having high impact and invasion risk, corroborating its position on the EU list of 49 IAS of Union Concern. This suggests our methodology and metrics have great potential to direct future IAS policy decisions and management. This, however, relies on collation and generation of new data on alien species functional responses, numerical responses and their proxies, and imaginative measures of propagule pressure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2018


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