Biological invasions in terrestrial Antarctica: what is the current status and can we respond?
Until recently the Antarctic continent and Peninsula have been little impacted by non-native species, compared to other regions of the Earth. However, reports of species introductions are increasing as awareness of biological invasions as a major conservation threat, within the context of increased human activities and climate change scenarios, has grown within the Antarctic community. Given the recent increase in documented reports, here we provide an up-to-date inventory of known terrestrial non-native species introductions, including those subsequently removed since the 1990s, within the Antarctic Treaty area. This builds on earlier syntheses of records published in the mid-2000s, which focused largely on the sub-Antarctic islands, given the dearth of literature available at that time from the continental and maritime Antarctic regions. Reports of non-native species established in the natural environment (i.e. non-synanthropic) are mainly located within the Antarctic Peninsula region and Scotia Arc, with Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, the most impacted area. Non-native plants have generally been removed from sites of introduction, but no established invertebrates have yet been subject to any eradication attempt, despite a recent increase in reports. Legislation within the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty has not kept pace with environmental best practice, potentially presenting difficulties for the practical aspects of non-native species control and eradication. The success of any eradication attempt may be affected by management practices and the biology of the target species under polar conditions. Practical management action is only likely to succeed with greater co-operation and improved communication and engagement by nations and industries operating in the region.
Authors: Hughes, Kevin A., Pertierra, Luis R., Molina-Montenegro, Marco A., Convey, Peter