Climate change increases extent and richness of invasion hotspots in the Arctic

Study in the Canadian Arctic identifies 23 high-risk invasive species and four invasion hotspots, predicted to increase significantly in future climates

Data resources used via GBIF : 63,923 species occurrence
Sargassum muticum
Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt observed in West Sussex, England by Jarvo (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Considered one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss and recent extinctions, invasive species are a global threat with great ecological, economic and even human health impacts. Invasion risks are believed to increase with global warming, particularly in high latitude regions.

In the Arctic, shipping activities are responsible for almost half of all known marine invasions, and with predicted future ice-free conditions, more shipping corridors will open. In this study, researchers aimed to identify potential high-risk species and predict current and future invasion hotspots in the Canadian Arctic.

Through a stepwise vetting process, the authors identified 23 known marine invasive or harmful species for which they gathered occurrences mediated by GBIF and OBIS for use in MaxEnt modelling of current and future distributions. The models identified four hotspots in the region with overlapping suitability for up to 20 species: Hudson Bay, Northern Grand Banks/Labrador, Chuckchi/Eastern Bering seas and Barents and White seas.

In future projections for 2050 and 2100, both the geographic extent of hotspots and the potential richness of invasive species in the Arctic are predicted to increase—and at a much larger scale than globally.

Goldsmit J, McKindsey CW, Schlegel RW, Stewart DB, Archambault P and Howland KL (2020) What and where? Predicting invasion hotspots in the Arctic marine realm. Global Change Biology. Wiley 26(9): 4752–4771. Available at: