Invasion Biology

Current Activity

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment highlighted invasive non-native species (INNS) as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.  INNS cost the British and European economies an estimated £1.7 billion and €12 billion, respectively, each year. INNS are being introduced into Europe at unprecedented rates and are best controlled through prevention, early detection and rapid response. BRC has developed integrated warning systems, leading the development of national and European-wide databases providing information on >12,000 INNS coupled with detailed research on the ecology of INNS.

Key Outputs

Information systems contribute to understanding and management of INNS. The DAISIE database identified over 12,000 NNS within Europe, while the GB-NNSIP covers over 2,000 non-native species.  The GB-NNSIP early warning and rapid response system was key to the Environment Agency’s early identification of the newly arrived shrimp Dikerogammerus haemobaphes.  BRC has recently co-ordinated experts from the volunteer recording community in an horizon scanning review to predict INNS not yet established in Great Britain that are likely to impact on native biodiversity. 

Spread of the harlequin ladybird (2004-2014)

Map showing spread of harlequin ladybird

Figure: Colin Harrower, CEH.

Over 50,000 people contributed harlequin ladybird records to the UK Ladybird Survey, helping to improve understanding of its ecology.

Number of established non-native species in the UK: an upward trend

Chart showing upward trend of established non-native species

Figure: Helen Roy, CEH

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of species becoming established in the UK over the last 400 years and there is no indication of this trend slowing.  The number of established non-native species designated as having a negative ecological or human impact is also increasing. 

Horizon scanning for non-native species

Picture of asian shore crab

Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus
. Photo: Martin Burke

Quagga mussel, Dreissena rostriformis bugensis, received maximum scores for risk of arrival, establishment and impact on biodiversity in an horizon scanning workshop involving volunteer experts from the recording community. The Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, is another species ranked in the top ten list of species most likely to threaten biodiversity in Great Britain in the next 10 years. The first record of this crab was received one year after the workshop predicted its arrival.

Future Challenges

Collaboration is critical for responding to INNS. BRC is leading a European network 'Towards a European information platform for alien species' which is facilitating collaboration between experts across the continent.  The project aims to harmonise NNS databases and explore undiscovered sources of information. Such work is integral to the implementation of post-2010 EU Biodiversity Strategy.  Within GB, BRC is supporting the rapid flow of INNS information from recorders to the GB-NNSIP and NBN Gateway to underpin effective decision-making.


RN314 Haelewaters Danny, Zhao Serena Y., Clusella-Trullas Susana, Cottrell Ted E., De Kesel André, Fiedler Lukáš, Herz Annette, Hesketh Helen, Hui Cang, Kleespies Regina G., Losey John E., Minnaar Ingrid A., Murray Katie M., Nedved Oldřich, Pfliegler Walter P., van den Berg Lidwien Raak-, Riddick Eric W., Shapiro-Ilan David I., Smyth Rebecca R., Steenberg Tove, van Wielink Paul S., Viglášová Sandra, Zhao Zihua, Ceryngier Piotr, Roy Helen E. (2017) Parasites of Harmonia axyridis: current research and perspectives. ,
RN322 Essl Franz, Hulme Philip E., Jeschke Jonathan M., Keller Reuben, Pyšek Petr, Richardson David M., Saul Wolf-Christian, Bacher Sven, Dullinger Stefan, Estévez Rodrigo A., Kueffer Christoph, Roy Helen E., Seebens Hanno, Rabitsch Wolfgang (2017) Scientific and Normative Foundations for the Valuation of Alien-Species Impacts: Thirteen Core Principles. ,
RN374 Pocock Michael J. O., Roy Helen E., Fox Richard, Ellis Willem N., Botham M. S. (2017) Citizen science and invasive alien species: Predicting the detection of the oak processionary moth Thaumetopoea processionea by moth recorders. ,
RN406 Seebens Hanno, Blackburn Tim M., Dyer Ellie E., Genovesi Piero, Hulme Philip E., Jeschke Jonathan M., Pagad Shyama, Pyšek Petr, Winter Marten, Arianoutsou Margarita, Bacher Sven, Blasius Bernd, Brundu Giuseppe, Capinha César, Celesti-Grapow Laura, Dawson Wayne, Dullinger Stefan, Fuentes Nicol, Jäger Heinke, Kartesz John, Kenis Marc, Kreft Holger, Kühn Ingolf, Lenzner Bernd, Liebhold Andrew, Mosena Alexander, Moser Dietmar, Nishino Misako, Pearman David, Pergl Jan, Rabitsch Wolfgang, Rojas-Sandoval Julissa, Roques Alain, Rorke Steph L., Rossinelli Silvia, Roy Helen E., Scalera Riccardo, Schindler Stefan, Štajerová Kateřina, Tokarska-Guzik Barbara, van Kleunen Mark, Walker Kevin, Weigelt Patrick, Yamanaka Takehiko, Essl Franz (2017) No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. ,
699 Garnas J. R., Auger-Rozenberg M. A., Roques A., Bertelsmeier C., Wingfield M. J., Saccaggi D. L., Roy Helen E., Slippers B. (2016) Complex patterns of global spread in invasive insects: eco-evolutionary and management consequences. ,
702 Honek A., Martinkova Z., Dixon A. F. G., Roy Helen E., Pekar S. (2016) Long-term changes in communities of native coccinellids: population fluctuations and the effect of competition from an invasive non-native species. ,
704 Hui C., Richardson D. M., Landi P., Minoarivelo H. O., Garnas J., Roy Helen E. (2016) Defining invasiveness and invasibility in ecological networks. ,
713 Roy Helen E., Scalera Riccardo, Dunn Alison, Hesketh Helen (2016) Invasive species: Control wildlife pathogens too. ,
715 Roy Helen E., Brown Peter M. J., Adriaens Tim, Berkvens Nick, Borges I., Clusella-Trullas S., Comont Richard F., De Clercq P., Eschen R., Estoup A., Evans E. W., Facon B., Gardiner M. M., Gil A., Grez A. A., Guillemaud T., Haelewaters D., Herz A., Honek A., Howe A. G., Hui C., Hutchison W. D., Kenis Marc, Koch R. L., Kulfan J., Handley L. L., Lombaert E., Loomans A., Losey J., Lukashuk A. O., Maes Dirk, Magro A., Murray K. M., San Martin G., Martinkova Z., Minnaar I. A., Nedved O., Orlova-Bienkowskaja M. J., Osawa N., Rabitsch W., Ravn H. P., Rondoni G., Rorke Steph L., Ryndevich S. K., Saethre M. G., Sloggett J. J., Soares A. O., Stals R., Tinsley M. C., Vandereycken A., van Wielink P., Viglasova S., Zach P., Zakharov I. A., Zaviezo T., Zhao Z. H. (2016) The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis: global perspectives on invasion history and ecology. ,
RN327 Lucy F. E., Roy H., Simpson A., Carlton J. T., Hanson J. M., Magellan K., Campbell M. L., Costello M. J., Pagad S., Hewitt C. L., McDonald J., Cassey P., Thomaz S. M., Katsanevakis S., Zenetos A., Tricarico E., Boggero A., Groom Q. J., Adriaens T., Vanderhoeven S., Torchin M., Hufbauer R., Fuller P., Carman M. R., Conn D. B., Vitule J. R. S., Canning-Clode J., Galil B. S., Ojaveer H., Bailey S. A., Therriault T. W., Claudi R., Gazda A., Dick J. T. A., Caffrey J., Witt A., Kenis M., Lehtiniemi M., Helmisaari H., Panov V. E. (2016) INVASIVESNET towards an International Association for Open Knowledge on Invasive Alien Species. ,