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Biological invasions in the Antarctic: extent, impacts and implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2005

Yves Frenot
Affiliation:
UMR 6553 CNRS-Université de Rennes and French Polar Institute (IPEV), Station Biologique, F-35380 Paimpont, France
Steven L. Chown
Affiliation:
2 DST Centre of Excellence fur Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
Jennie Whinam
Affiliation:
Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, GPO Box 44, Hobart 7001, Australia
Patricia M. Selkirk
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Peter Convey
Affiliation:
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
Mary Skotnicki
Affiliation:
Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Dana M. Bergstrom
Affiliation:
Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston 7050, Australia
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Abstract

Alien microbes, fungi, plants and animals occur on most of the sub-Antarctic islands and some parts of the Antarctic continent. These have arrived over approximately the last two centuries, coincident with human activity in the region. Introduction routes have varied, but are largely associated with movement of people and cargo in connection with industrial, national scientific program and tourist operations. The large majority of aliens are European in origin. They have both direct and indirect impacts on the functioning of species-poor Antarctic ecosystems, in particular including substantial loss of local biodiversity and changes to ecosystem processes. With rapid climate change occurring in some parts of Antarctica, elevated numbers of introductions and enhanced success of colonization by aliens are likely, with consequent increases in impacts on ecosystems. Mitigation measures that will substantially reduce the risk of introductions to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic must focus on reducing propagule loads on humans, and their food, cargo, and transport vessels.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
2005 Cambridge Philosophical Society

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