Environmental Laboratory

  • Which Species Threaten UK Biodiversity?

Which Species Threaten UK Biodiversity?

Feb 10 2019 Read 687 Times

At the end of last year, the EU published its first ever list of invasive alien species (IAS) which are predicted to threaten biodiversity across the bloc, including the UK. Of course, the potential impacts of the arrival and spread of these species will be detrimental to British wildlife regardless of the outcome of the Brexit debate, as animals are not known for their respect for political wrangling.

From a longlist of 329 species, the panel of EU experts whittled the IAS list down to 66. Eight in particular are deemed to be of particular concern, including the northern snakehead, the black striped mussel and the rusty crayfish. While none of these animals have yet be discovered in the wild in the EU, the panel behind the report say they must be included in any forthcoming legislation.

Creating the shortlist

In compiling the final shortlist, the experts used a technique called “horizon scanning”. This involved them taking the initial longlist of 329 species and ranking each one in four different categories: a) the likelihood of them arriving in the EU; b) the likelihood of their population establishing itself; c) the likelihood of them spreading amongst native species and d) the size of the impact their presence is projected to have on biodiversity.

It is the first time that horizon scanning has been used to predict IAS threats on a continent-wide scale and highlights the wide number of species which may cause problems for European and British biodiversity. Although none of the species are yet found in the EU (apart from in captivity), it’s feared that they may be able to stowaway on boats or flights or escape from laboratories and zoos.

Top of the pile

While the EU experts identified a total of 66 species which could threaten EU and UK biodiversity, they have earmarked eight that are of particular concern. These are comprised of:

  • Black striped mussel. Native to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the black striped mussel could overwhelm local populations and have a detrimental impact on fisheries.
  • Fox squirrel. Native to North America, the fox squirrel could outcompete existing squirrel species (similar to how the grey squirrel has marginalised the red squirrel in the UK).
  • Golden mussel. Native to China and parts of southeast Asia, the golden mussel could overwhelm local populations.
  • Green seaweed. Native to the Red Sea, green seaweed could outcompete local seaweed species and disrupt entire ecosystems as a result.
  • Northern snakehead. Native to China, Russia and both North and South Korea, the northern snakehead is aggressive to other species and has been wreaking havoc in the US for the last 20 years.
  • Onyx slippersnail. Native to the Americas, the onyx slippersnail could quickly proliferate and overwhelm local populations.
  • Rusty crayfish. Native to North America, the rusty crayfish is a transmitter of disease and fungus and could decimate local populations.
  • Striped eel catfish. Native to the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the striped eel catfish could disrupt water quality and prey on local populations.

It’s no coincidence that six of the eight IAS are water-dwelling animals. With that in mind, high-resolution monitoring of rivers and waterways will be imperative to ensure that none of the above scenarios occur.

Reader comments

Do you like or dislike what you have read? Why not post a comment to tell others / the manufacturer and our Editor what you think. To leave comments please complete the form below. Providing the content is approved, your comment will be on screen in less than 24 hours. Leaving comments on product information and articles can assist with future editorial and article content. Post questions, thoughts or simply whether you like the content.

Post a Comment




Digital Edition

International Environmental Technology April 2019

April 2019

In This Edition Business News - New appointment to boost noise and vibration specialists - Restek and LECO collaborate in worldwide supply agreement - Evonik catalyst in the life support sy...

View all digital editions

Events

IFSE

Apr 25 2019 Bangkok, Thailand

64th ISA Analysis Division Symposium

May 05 2019 Galveston, TX, USA

Ozwater 2019

May 07 2019 Melbourne, Australia

ENVEX

May 15 2019 Seoul, South Korea

FlowExpo 2019

May 16 2019 Guangzhou, China

View all events