Invasive Species and Biodiversity Management

Invasive Species and Biodiversity Management

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 257 (2001) 317–319 www.elsevier.nl / locate / jembe Book review Invasive Species and Biodiversity ...

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Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 257 (2001) 317–319 www.elsevier.nl / locate / jembe

Book review Invasive Species and Biodiversity Management ˚ Edited by Odd Terje Sandlund, Peter Johan Schei and Aslaug Viken; Kluwer Academic Publishers; 1999; pp. 431; US$ 187.50, GBP 116.95; ISBN 0-412-84080-4 (Hbk) Invasive species have been with us a long time. This volume starts with Darwin’s 1839 observations in ‘‘Voyage of The Beagle’’ of the hundreds of square miles in South America covered with monospecific stands of European natives, ‘‘impenetrable by man or beast’’. Invasive species are receiving increasing attention as their impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity and the economy are recognised. In the United States, the spread of alien species is the second most important cause of biodiversity loss, affecting 49% of imperiled species; in Hawaii, nearly 100% of the archipelago’s imperiled species are threatened by alien species (Wilcove et al., 1998). Estimated costs associated with non-indigenous organisms in the United States are US$ 123 billion annually (Pimentel et al., 2000). A Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) is being developed by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), IUCN, UNEP and CABI in response to the threat of invasive species. The Programme was shaped by the discussions at the Norway / UN Trondheim Conference on Alien Species and it comes as no surprise that this book, based on a selection of papers presented at that conference, provides a comprehensive overview of the problem. The papers are divided into a general introduction and six sections on: Human Dimensions; Ecology of Introductions; International Pathways; Management Tools; Country Case Studies; and, Where Do We Go From Here? The volume has been well edited and a brief perusal of the general introduction and individual paper abstracts pays dividends in developing an overview of key topics in invasive species research and management. In fact, the introduction and abstracts may be the best aspects of this book, which similar to many conference volumes, mainly presents work that has been published elsewhere in the primary literature. Most of the papers have a terrestrial focus, but many of the concepts apply equally to the marine environment, where research is at an earlier stage. Jeffrey McNeeley notes in the first paper the link between invasive pests and the global economy – invasive pests can start as intentional introductions for economic gain but are more frequently hitchhikers on international trade. Many of the intentional introductions also go wrong leaving society at large to pay the consequences – US$ 3.6–5.4 billion per year for invasive weeds in the US alone. Impacts of alien species could be better judged before release if prediction of impacts was possible. Several authors conclude that predicting 0022-0981 / 01 / $ – see front matter  2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S0022-0981( 00 )00272-0

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Book review / J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 257 (2001) 317 – 319

´ which species will become pests is difficult if not impossible, although Marcel Rejmanek reports that smaller genomes of the genus Pinus are more invasive than larger ones. Improved predictive capacity would not help that much for the many invasive species already present at low levels in their new environment awaiting suitable environmental conditions. Jeffrey Crooks and Michael Soule´ report that the Asian mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, was present in low numbers in Britain for 75 years before hordes of crabs were found upriver following severe droughts in the late 1980s. A southern California invader, the wood-boring gribble Limnoria tripunctata, was introduced into the Long Beach–Los Angeles Harbour area over 100 years ago, but it was not until pollution in the area was reduced in the late 1960’s that the isopod underwent a population explosion, causing the collapse of a local wharf through its boring activities. Given the difficulty of predicting which alien species will become invasive (and hundreds of alien marine species have been reported from the major ports surveyed), Crooks and Soule´ recommend that extirpation be early and vigorous. The one area that this book treats cursorily is tools for managing established invasive species. The four authors of this section agree that prevention is the best cure. There is a plethora of legislation existing in some countries to prevent and control introduction of alien species (17 agencies in the US alone include alien species in their responsibilities), but success has been patchy. Michael Bean suggests that imposing legal liability on parties responsible for introducing harmful species could be a useful strategy to improve response. Two papers deal with the extent of biological invasions in the oceans. In the first, Jim Carlton estimates that between 3,000 and 10,000 alien species are being transported around the globe daily in ships’ ballast water. Since the 1400s (earlier for intraoceanic transfer) wooden-hulled ships have carried species on the exteriors of their hulls. Carlton estimates that at least 1,000 species of nearshore marine plants and animals now regarded as cosmopolitan may represent overlooked pre-1800 invasions. The ecosystemlevel changes caused by most of these alien species is unknown, although he credits one – the wood-boring isopod, Spaeroma terebrans, native to the Indian ocean – with resetting the seaward extent of tropical west Atlantic mangrove ecosystems. Another, this time intentional, introduction – the European periwinkle, Littorina littorea – has by its sheer abundance altered the abundance of seaweeds and development of marshes on more northern west Atlantic shores. The second marine paper, by Charles Boudouresque, discusses the most important biogeographic event witnessed in contemporary oceans – the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The nearly 300 species that have travelled from the Red Sea and Indo-West Pacific to the Mediterranean now consitute 4% of the latter’s biodiversity. The rate of species transfer is not expected to decline unless counter measures such as lock gates or reactivation of haline barriers (lost during recent deepening of the Canal) are put in place. Three authors note that impact of alien species are not confined to the macroscale; they also impact the diversity and success of diseases, can disrupt previously stable microbial communities and can drive local species to extinction through genetic hybridisation. Several authors note the start of a new onslaught of potentially invasive species – genetically modified organisms. The history of biological invasions provides many leads on what we can expect in the future as genetically modified organisms

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become more prevalent. Concluding a description of the problems of invasive species in freshwater and estuarine ecosystems, Peter Moyle concludes that we have the knowledge and resources to control invasions; whether or not we prevent future invasions and protect our aquatic environments depends on whether we have the will to act. Researchers around the world have been working on GISP since 1996 and will be reporting their conclusions to a star-studded cast of ministers and policy makers in Cape Town, South Africa later this year. The impacts of invasive species are coming increasingly to the fore and this book provides the reader a sound entry to the literature. Its scope means that students and experts will find something interesting in it, whether detailed reading of chapters of particular interest or a more cursory perusal of the chapter summaries. The book is expensive at US$ 187.50 and my copy started falling apart after only 3 hours reading. Dr. N.J. Bax Centre for Research into Introduced Marine Pests CSIRO Marine Research, GPO Box 1538, Castray Esplanade Hobart 7001 Australia

References Pimentel, D., Lach, L., Zuniga, R., Morrison, D., 2000. Environmental and economic costs of non-indigenous species in the United States. Bioscience 50 (1), 53–65. Wilcove, D.S., Rothstein, D., Dubow, J., Phillips, A., Losos, E., 1998. Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. Bioscience 48, 607–615.