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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(3)

Alien invasive vertebrates in ecosystems: pattern, process and the social dimension

Piran C. L. White A, Adriana E. S. Ford A, Mick N. Clout B, Richard M. Engeman C, Sugoto Roy D, Glen Saunders E

A Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK.
B Centre for Biodiversity & Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.
C USDA/Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80521-2154, USA.
D Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ, UK.
E Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: PCLW1@york.ac.uk
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The rate of biological invasions has increased dramatically over recent centuries. Alien invasive vertebrates have significant adverse effects on biodiversity, and island fauna are especially susceptible. Human-induced environmental change is likely to exacerbate these negative impacts of alien invasive species. However, invasion biology has advanced considerably over the last two decades, with improvement in understanding of the processes of establishment and spread. New developments in spatial modelling have elucidated the way in which behavioural processes at the individual level can drive population-level patterns such as spread. Combined with new genetic insights into the process of invasion, these advances may assist in the development of novel, better-targeted management strategies that provide new options in how to deal with the threat posed by invasive species. Decisions about whether to and how we should intervene are questions for all sectors of society, but research on the social and cultural impacts of invasive species is largely lacking. There are many opportunities for enhancing the social dimensions of invasive species research, and integrated assessments of the social, economic and environmental impacts of species provide one potential avenue. As part of this, there is also a need to increase stakeholder participation in the decision-making process regarding alien invasive species. These more holistic approaches are essential if we are to reduce the impact of alien invasive species to within acceptable limits in the face of rapid environmental change.

Keywords: alien species, biological invasion, climate change, ecosystem effects, invasive species.

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