Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Synergies between climate change, extinctions and invasive vertebrates

Barry W. Brook

Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia. Email: barry.brook@adelaide.edu.au

Wildlife Research 35(3) 249-252 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR07116
Submitted: 17 August 2007  Accepted: 16 January 2008   Published: 20 May 2008


There is mounting evidence for the direct ecological impacts of recent climate change, and for amplifying feedbacks, in both directions, with other drivers of biodiversity loss, such as habitat fragmentation and overexploitation. Surprisingly, however, empirical and experimental data on the links between climate change and species introductions are scant, especially for invasive vertebrates. Because the theoretical basis for their mutually reinforced impact is strong, this dearth of evidence likely reflects the difficulty in studying such interactions, and insufficient attention to this topic, rather than a genuine lack of association. Given the unprecedented rate of recent and predicted future climate change, and the continued exponential rise in species invasions worldwide, it is imperative that we sharpen our scientific focus so as to best equip wildlife managers with the knowledge to tackle this inevitable synergy of threats.


Benning T. L. LaPointe D. Atkinson C. T. Vitousek P. M. 2002 Interactions of climate change with biological invasions and land use in the Hawaiian Islands: modeling the fate of endemic birds using a geographic information system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99 14246 14249 DOI

Botkin D. B. Saxe H. Araújo M. B. Betts R. Bradshaw R. H. W. et al. 2007 Forecasting the effects of global warming on biodiversity. Bioscience 57 227 236 DOI

Brook B. W. Bowman D. M. J. S. 2004 The uncertain blitzkrieg of Pleistocene megafauna. Journal of Biogeography 31 517 523

Brook B. W. Sodhi N. S. Ng P. K. L. 2003 Catastrophic extinctions follow deforestation in Singapore. Nature 424 420 423

Brook B. W. Bowman D. M. J. S. Burney D. A. Flannery T. F. Gagan M. K. et al. 2007 Would the Australian megafauna have become extinct if humans had never colonised the continent? Comments on “A review of the evidence for a human role in the extinction of Australian megafauna and an alternative explanation” by S. Wroe and J. Field. Quaternary Science Reviews 26 560 564 DOI

Caldeira K. Jain A. K. Hoffert M. I. 2003 Climate sensitivity uncertainty and the need for energy without CO2 emission. Science 299 2052 2054 DOI

Cannon R. J. C. 1998 The implications of predicted climate change for insect pests in the UK, with emphasis on non-indigenous species. Global Change Biology 4 785 796 DOI

Carroll C. 2007 Interacting effects of climate change, landscape conversion, and harvest on carnivore populations at the range margin: marten and lynx in the northern Appalachians. Conservation Biology 21 1092 1104 DOI

Chambers L. E. Hughes L. Weston M. A. 2005 Climate change and its impact on Australia’s avifauna. Emu 105 1 20 DOI

Chapuis J. L. Frenot Y. Lebouvier M. 2004 Recovery of native plant communities after eradication of rabbits from the subantarctic Kerguelen Islands, and influence of climate change. Biological Conservation 117 167 179 DOI

Chown S. L. Slabber S. McGeoch M. A. Janion C. Leinaas H. P. 2007 Phenotypic plasticity mediates climate change responses among invasive and indigenous arthropods. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, Biological Sciences 274 2531 2537 DOI

Davies K. F. Margules C. R. Lawrence J. F. 2004 A synergistic effect puts rare, specialized species at greater risk of extinction. Ecology 85 265 271 DOI

Diamond J. M. (1989). Overview of recent extinctions. In ‘Conservation for the Twenty-first Century’. (Eds D. Western and M. C. Pearl.) pp. 37–41. (Oxford University Press: Oxford.)

Didham R. K. Tylianakis J. M. Gemmell N. J. Rand T. A. Ewers R. M. 2007 Interactive effects of habitat modification and species invasion on native species decline. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 22 489 496 DOI

Gritti E. S. Smith B. Sykes M. T. 2006 Vulnerability of Mediterranean Basin ecosystems to climate change and invasion by exotic plant species. Journal of Biogeography 33 145 157 DOI

Hallam A. (2005). ‘Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities: The Causes of Mass Extinctions.’ (Oxford University Press: New York.)

Haywood A. Williams M. 2005 The climate of the future: clues from three million years ago. Geology Today 21 138 143 DOI

Hewitt G. M. 1999 Post-glacial re-colonization of European biota. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 68 87 112

Huyser O. Ryan P. G. Cooper J. 2000 Changes in population size, habitat use and breeding biology of lesser sheathbills (Chionis minor) at Marion Island: impacts of cats, mice and climate change? Biological Conservation 92 299 310

IPCC (2007). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: fourth assessment report (AR4). Available online at http://www.ipcc.ch

Jackson D. B. 2007 Factors affecting the abundance of introduced hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) to the Hebridean island of South Uist in the absence of natural predators and implications for nesting birds. Journal of Zoology 271 210 217 DOI

Koch P. L. Barnosky A. D. 2006 Late Quaternary extinctions: state of the debate. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 37 215 250 DOI

Kriticos D. J. Sutherst R. W. Brown J. R. Adkins S. W. Maywald G. F. 2003 Climate change and the potential distribution of an invasive alien plant: Acacia nilotica ssp indica in Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 40 111 124 DOI

Lawton J. H., and May R. M. (Eds) (1995). ‘Extinction Rates.’ (Oxford University Press: Oxford.)

Lockwood J. L., Hoopes M. F., and Marchetti M. P. (2007). ‘Invasion Ecology.’ (Blackwell: Oxford.)

Lodge D. M. 1993 Biological invasions – lessons for ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 8 133 137 DOI

Lovejoy T. E., and Hannah L. (Eds.) (2005). ‘Climate Change and Biodiversity.’ (Yale University Press: New Haven, CT.)

Macdonald D. W., King C. M., and Strachan R. (2007). Introduced species and the line between biodiversity conservation and naturalistic eugenics. In ‘Key Topics in Conservation Biology’. (Eds D. W. Macdonald and K. Service.) pp. 186–205. (Blackwell: Oxford.)

MEA (2005). ‘Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Mora C. Metzger R. Rollo A. Myers R. A. 2007 Experimental simulations about the effects of overexploitation and habitat fragmentation on populations facing environmental warming. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, Biological Sciences 274 1023 1028 DOI

Morrison L. W. Korzukhin M. D. Porter S. D. 2005 Predicted range expansion of the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, in the eastern United States based on the VEMAP global warming scenario. Diversity & Distributions 11 199 204 DOI

Overpeck J. T., Whitlock C., and Huntley B. (2003). Terrestrial biosphere dynamics in the climate system: past and future. In ‘Paleoclimate, Global Change and the Future’. (Eds R. S. Bradley, T. F. Pedersen, K. D. Alverson and K. F. Bergmann.) pp. 81–103. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin.)

Parmesan C. 2006 Ecological and evolutionary response to recent climate change. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 37 637 669 DOI

Prideaux G. J. Roberts R. G. Megirian D. Westaway K. E. Hellstrom J. C. Olley J. I. 2007 Mammalian responses to Pleistocene climate change in southeastern Australia. Geology 35 33 36 DOI

Simberloff D. 2000 Global climate change and introduced species in United States forests. The Science of the Total Environment 262 253 261 DOI

Smith S. D. Huxman T. E. Zitzer S. F. Charlet T. N. Housman D. C. et al. 2000 Elevated CO2 increases productivity and invasive species success in an arid ecosystem. Nature 408 79 82 DOI

Sodhi N. S., Brook B. W., and Bradshaw C. J. A. (2007). ‘Tropical Conservation Biology.’ (Blackwell: Oxford.)

Stachowicz J. J. Terwin J. R. Whitlatch R. B. Osman R. W. 2002 Linking climate change and biological invasions: ocean warming facilitates nonindigenous species invasions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99 15497 15500 DOI

Urban M. C. Phillips B. L. Skelly D. K. Shine R. 2007 The cane toad’s (Chaunus [Bufo] marinus) increasing ability to invade Australia is revealed by a dynamically updated range model. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, Biological Sciences 274 1413 1419 DOI

Ward N. L. Masters G. J. 2007 Linking climate change and species invasion: an illustration using insect herbivores. Global Change Biology 13 1605 1615 DOI

Weltzin J. F. Belote R. T. Sanders N. J. 2003 Biological invaders in a greenhouse world: will elevated CO2 fuel plant invasions? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1 146 153

Williams J. W. Jackson S. T. Kutzbach J. E. 2007 Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100 AD. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104 5738 5742

Export Citation