Horizon scanning of potential threats to high-Arctic biodiversity, human health, and the economy from marine invasive alien species: A Svalbard case study

Elizabeth J. Cottier-Cook, Jude Bentley-Abbot, Finlo R. Cottier, Dan Minchin, Sergej Olenin, Paul E. Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

The high Arctic is considered a pristine environment compared with many other regions in the northern hemisphere. It is becoming increasingly vulnerable to invasion by invasive alien species (IAS), however, as climate change leads to rapid loss of sea ice, changes in ocean temperature and salinity, and enhanced human activities. These changes are likely to increase the incidence of arrival and the potential for establishment of IAS in the region. To predict the impact of IAS, a group of experts in taxonomy, invasion biology and Arctic ecology carried out a horizon scanning exercise using the Svalbard archipelago as a case study, to identify the species that present the highest risk to biodiversity, human health and the economy within the next 10 years. A total of 114 species, currently absent from Svalbard, recorded once and/or identified only from environmental DNA samples, were initially identified as relevant for review. Seven species were found to present a high invasion risk and to potentially cause a significant negative impact on biodiversity and five species had the potential to have an economic impact on Svalbard. Decapod crabs, ascidians and barnacles dominated the list of highest risk marine IAS. Potential pathways of invasion were also researched, the most common were found associated with vessel traffic. We recommend (i) use of this approach as a key tool within the application of biosecurity measures in the wider high Arctic, (ii) the addition of this tool to early warning systems for strengthening existing surveillance measures; and (iii) that this approach is used to identify high-risk terrestrial and freshwater IAS to understand the overall threat facing the high Arctic. Without the application of biosecurity measures, including horizon scanning, there is a greater risk that marine IAS invasions will increase, leading to unforeseen changes in the environment and economy of the high Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17009
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Change Biology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Arctic seas
  • early warning
  • invasive
  • ocean warming
  • pathways
  • risk assessment

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