Salinity tolerance and geographical origin predict global alien amphipod invasions

Ross N. Cuthbert*, Syrmalenia G. Kotronaki, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Elizabeta Briski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Invasive alien species are driving global biodiversity loss, compromising ecosystem function and service provision, and human, animal and plant health. Habitat characteristics and geographical origin may predict invasion success, and in aquatic environments could be mediated principally by salinity tolerance. Crustacean invaders are causing global problems and we urgently require better predictive power of their invasiveness. Here, we compiled global aquatic gammarid (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Gammaroidea) diversity and examined their salinity tolerances and regions of origin to test whether these factors predict invasion success. Across 918 aquatic species within this superfamily, relatively few gammarids (n = 27, 3%) were reported as aliens, despite extensive invasion opportunities and high numbers of published studies on amphipod invasions. However, reported alien species were disproportionately salt-tolerant (i.e. 32% of brackish-water species), with significantly lower proportions of aliens originating from freshwater and marine environments (both 1%). Alien gammarids also significantly disproportionally originated from the Ponto-Caspian (20% of these taxa) when compared with all ‘other’ grouped regions (1%), and principally invaded Eurasian waters, with translocations of salt-tolerant taxa to freshwaters being pervasive. This suggests habitat characteristics, alongside regional contexts, help predict invasibility. In particular, broad environmental tolerances to harsh environments and associated evolutionary history probably promote success of aliens globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200354
Number of pages1
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 02 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Aquatic aliens
  • Biodiversity
  • Invasion success
  • Ponto-Caspian
  • Predicting invaders
  • Salinity regime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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