What will the future bring for biological invasions on islands? an expert-based assessment

Bernd Lenzner, Guillaume Latombe, César Capinha, Céline Bellard, Franck Courchamp, Christophe Diagne, Stefan Dullinger, Marina Golivets, Severin D. H. Irl, Ingolf Kühn, P Brian Leung, Chunlong Liu, Dietmar Moser, Núria Roura Pascual, Hanno Seebens, Anna Turbelin, Patrick Weigelt, Franz Essl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological invasions are a major threat to global biodiversity with particularly strong implications for island biodiversity. Much research has been dedicated towards understanding historic and current changes in alien species distribution and impacts on islands and potential changes under future climate change. However, projections of how alien species richness and impacts on islands might develop in the future are still lacking. In the absence of reliable projections, expert-based assessments are a valuable tool to investigate the importance of different drivers and pathways and the distributions of potential impacts of future biological invasions. These insights can guide subsequent quantification efforts and inform invasive species management and policy. In this study, we performed a survey among 126 experts in invasion science ranging from scientists to managers and decision makers with a focus on island systems until the mid-21st century. The survey revealed that out of 15 drivers, six were considered important by almost all respondents (>90%). Of these, trade and transport was identified as most important at the introduction stage (99.2%) and land use/cover change as most important at the establishment (96.8%) and spread (95.2%) stage. Additionally, the experts considered that alien species were more likely to be introduced (93.7%) and spread (78.6%) as stowaways than through any other pathway. In general, respondents agreed that the impacts of alien species will increase on all types of islands, particularly on oceanic islands, followed by atolls and continental islands. Within islands, terrestrial ecosystems were assumed to be impacted more severely than marine ecosystems. Finally, the survey hints toward the potential for effective communication, scientific research and increased pro-active management of alien species on islands to reduce their future consequences. Given the major threat represented by invasive alien species on islands, these results provide crucial insights relevant for global and regional conservation efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number280
Number of pages16
Journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2020


  • biodiversity change
  • biological invasions
  • drivers
  • islands
  • expert-based approach
  • plausible futures
  • scenarios
  • survey


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