Troubling travellers: are ecologically harmful alien species associated with particular introduction pathways?
Prioritization of introduction pathways is seen as an important component of the management of biological invasions. We address whether established alien plants, mammals, freshwater fish and terrestrial invertebrates with known ecological impacts are associated with particular introduction pathways (release, escape, contaminant, stowaway, corridor and unaided). We used the information from the European alien species database DAISIE (www.europe-aliens.org) supplemented by the EASIN catalogue (European Alien Species Information Network), and expert knowledge. Plants introduced by the pathways release, corridor and unaided were disproportionately more likely to have ecological impacts than those introduced as contaminants. In contrast, impacts were not associated with particular introduction pathways for invertebrates, mammals or fish. Thus, while for plants management strategies should be targeted towards the appropriate pathways, for animals, management should focus on reducing the total number of taxa introduced, targeting those pathways responsible for high numbers of introductions. However, regardless of taxonomic group, having multiple introduction pathways increases the likelihood of the species having an ecological impact. This may simply reflect that species introduced by multiple pathways have high propagule pressure and so have a high probability of establishment. Clearly, patterns of invasion are determined by many interacting factors and management strategies should reflect this complexity.
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