High invasion risks in Antarctica

Despite being cold and remote, Antarctica is at greater risk for biological invasions than previously anticipated

Data resources used via GBIF : 600,000 species occurrences
Annual meadow grass (P. annua)

Annual meadow grass (P. annua) by Rebecca Cowser. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Biological invasions are a global concern that affects not only regions in which humans live, but also remote areas such as Antarctica, previously considered pristine, have been invaded by foreign species.

Focusing on two already established non-native grasses in Antarctica, Poa annua and Poa pratensis, this study used GBIF-mediated occurrences combined with temperature data to model the distribution of the invaders, and subsequently, quantify climatic suitability in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Further relating climatic suitability with human presence data, the researchers identify specific research stations, tourist sites and protected areas with the highest risk of being the source of an invasion­­. 

The study concludes that the Antarctic Peninsula is more vulnerable to biological invasions than previously expected, and the authors suggest a need for strict management policies to minimize introduction of invasive species.

Citations

Pertierra LR, Aragón P, Shaw JD, Bergstrom DM, Terauds A and Olalla-Tárraga MÁ (2017) Global thermal niche models of two European grasses show high invasion risks in Antarctica. Global Change Biology. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13596.

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