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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Identifying hotspots of invasive alien terrestrial vertebrates in Europe to assist transboundary prevention and control

Polaina, Ester; Part, Tomas; Recio, Mariano R.


This study aims to identify environmentally suitable areas for 15 of the most harmful invasive alien terrestrial vertebrates (IATV) in Europe in a transparent and replicable way. We used species distribution models and publicly-available data from GBIF to predict environmental suitability and to identify hotspots of IATV accounting for knowledge gaps in their distributions. To deal with the ecological particularities of invasive species, we followed a hierarchical approach to estimate the global climatic suitability for each species and incorporated this information into refined environmental suitability models within Europe. Combined predictions on environmental suitability identified potential areas of IATV concentrations or hotspots. Uncertainty of predictions identified regions requiring further survey efforts for species detection. Around 14% of Europe comprised potential hotspots of IATV richness, mainly located in northern France, UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. IATV coldspots covered similar to 9% of Europe, including southern Sweden and Finland, and northern Germany. Most of Europe (similar to 77% area) comprised uncertain suitability predictions, likely caused by a lack of data. Priorities on prevention and control should focus on potential hotspots where harmful impacts might concentrate. Promoting the collection of presence data within data-deficient areas is encouraged as a core strategy against IATVs.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2020, Volume: 10, number: 1, article number: 11655

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