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

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          Abstract

          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: Trachemysscriptascripta, the yellow-bellied slider; T.s.troostii, the Cumberland slider; Sternotherusodoratus, the common musk turtle; and Kinosternonsubrubrum, 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.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Beyond ballast water: aquarium and ornamental trades as sources of invasive species in aquatic ecosystems

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            Cats protecting birds: modelling the mesopredator release effect

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              Spatial heterogeneity of mesopredator release within an oceanic island system.

              Predator-prey communities are ubiquitous in ecology, but introduced predators can drive native species to extinction within island systems, prompting the eradication of such exotics. Ecological theory predicts that elimination of top-introduced predators from islands can lead to the counterintuitive decline of native prey populations through the ecological release of smaller introduced species in a process termed "mesopredator release." We show, in accordance with mesopredator release theory and counter to conservation goals for a New Zealand island reserve, that initial eradication of cats on Little Barrier Island led to reduced breeding success of Cook's petrels, which also are vulnerable to predation by a mesopredator, the Pacific rat. The rat's impact on prey productivity varied with elevation within the island. Rat eradication was followed by a rise in petrel productivity, in support of both ecological theory and practical conservation management goals. It appears that interactions among introduced predators, native prey, and environmental gradients can drive counterintuitive and spatially heterogeneous responses to predator eradications from islands. Location-specific, ecosystem-level understanding is essential for predicting the outcomes of such restoration management techniques.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NeoBiota
                NB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2488
                1619-0033
                October 19 2018
                October 19 2018
                : 40
                : 1-24
                Article
                10.3897/neobiota.40.28519
                © 2018

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