ArticlePDF Available


Emerging infectious diseases like COVID19 are driven by ecological and socioeconomic factors, and their rapid spread and devastating impacts mirror those of invasive species. Collaborations between biomedical researchers and ecologists, heretofore rare, are vital to limiting future outbreaks. Enhancing the cross-disciplinary framework offered by invasion science could achieve this goal.
Journal Pre-proof
Invasion Science and the Global Spread of SARS-CoV-2
M.A. Nuñez, A. Pauchard, A. Ricciardi
PII: S0169-5347(20)30134-8
Reference: TREE 2694
To appear in: Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Please cite this article as: M.A. Nuñez, A. Pauchard and A. Ricciardi, Invasion Science and
the Global Spread of SARS-CoV-2, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2020),
This is a PDF file of an article that has undergone enhancements after acceptance, such
as the addition of a cover page and metadata, and formatting for readability, but it is
not yet the definitive version of record. This version will undergo additional copyediting,
typesetting and review before it is published in its final form, but we are providing this
version to give early visibility of the article. Please note that, during the production
process, errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers
that apply to the journal pertain.
© 2020 Published by Elsevier.
Journal Pre-proof
Invasion Science and the Global Spread of SARS-CoV-2
Authors: M. A. Nuñez 1*, A. Pauchard2,3, A. Ricciardi4,5
1Grupo de Ecología de Invasiones, INIBIOMA, CONICET, Universidad Nacional del
Comahue, Pioneros 2350, San Carlos de Bariloche 8400, Argentina.
2Laboratorio de Invasiones Biológicas, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de
Concepción. Victoria 631, Concepción, Chile.
3Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB), Chile.
4Redpath Museum, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec
H3C 0C4, Canada
5Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch
University, Matieland, South Africa
*Correspondence to Martin A. Nuñez,
Emerging infectious diseases like COVID19 are driven by ecological and
socioeconomic factors, and their rapid spread and devastating impacts mirror those of
invasive species. Collaborations between biomedical researchers and ecologists,
heretofore rare, are vital to limiting future outbreaks. Enhancing the cross-disciplinary
framework offered by invasion science could achieve this goal.
Key words: Biological Invasions; Novel Pathogens; Invasion Science; Globalization;
Biosecurity; One Health
SARS-CoV-2 as a biological invasion
A sinister combination of ecosystem alteration, wildlife exploitation, and global
connectedness is increasing the risks of novel infectious disease emergence and spread
[1,2]. This combination of factors goes far in explaining recent viral epidemics and
pandemics such as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID19 disease; 2019
ongoing), Zika (201516), H1N1 (2009), and SARS (200204), and forewarns of others
in the future. Accordingly, societal efforts must be directed toward managing not only
the pathogens themselves but also the environmental factors that facilitate their
emergence, spread, and impacts. In addition to resolving the immense socioeconomic
and cultural challenges to this goal, clearly we must develop a cross-disciplinary
research program to address the consequences of increasing global connectedness and
alteration of biological systems. This collaborative effort must include the study of
biological invasions the spread and proliferation of organisms in new regions.
SARS-CoV-2 should be viewed as a biological invasion, although infectious
human diseases are rarely treated as such. Despite the longstanding debate on how to
Journal Pre-proof
Journal Pre-proof
classify viruses as living organisms, this viral outbreak has traits typical of an invasive
species: sudden emergence, rapid proliferation and spread, adaptation to new
environments (or hosts), large-scale geographic dispersal via human transportation
networks, and significant impacts in this case on human health and well-being. Its
management requires consideration of stage-based processes and expansion phases
quite similar to those of invasions of non-pathogenic organisms (Figure 1). Thus, we
contend that the field of invasion science [3] is positioned to contribute substantively to
understanding the drivers and mechanisms of the spread, and factors promoting
outbreaks, of novel infectious pathogens like SARS-CoV-2.
The spread of novel organisms and the role of invasion science
Invasion science inherently examines the connectedness between natural and
anthropogenic systems by integrating perspectives of, inter alia, ecology, biogeography,
population dynamics, evolutionary biology, risk analysis, human history, and
environmental management to understand the spread and impact of introduced
organisms in non-native contexts. The study of invasions has traditionally focused on
species per se, but ecologists have advocated extending its focus more generally to
hybrids, microbes, viruses, genetically modified organisms, and synthetic life, which are
all subject to biological constraints, evolutionary change, and opportunities to interface
with global transportation networks [35].
A major insight from invasion science is that the co-evolutionary relationships
between introduced organisms and their environments is key to understanding their
invasion success and impact [5,6], with novel organisms those without evolutionary
analogues in their recipient environment having the greatest potential to cause
disruption [57]. The introduction of novel organisms can create evolutionary
mismatches in which members of the recipient community have no adaptations to these
organisms and thus are highly vulnerable to their impact; the analogy to disease
immunology is evident.
It is not known what proportion of introduced novel organisms will proliferate
and cause substantial damage. Many have subtle or apparently minimal impacts on their
environment. Others can remain innocuous for periods of time before suddenly
becoming invasive (or virulent) in response to environmental change. Biological
invasions are growing in frequency worldwide [8], and the impacts of even a small
proportion (but an escalating absolute number) of these can be so disruptive and costly
that the issue is of societal importance, including to human health and well-being [9]. At
a time of unprecedented globalization, managing the threat of invasive novel organisms
requires internationally coordinated rapid response plans. Poor preparedness and
delayed response to invasions can lead to inadequate biosecurity measures and
potentially devastating costs, as the world has witnessed with SARS-CoV-2.
A cross-disciplinary approach to biosecurity
We believe the COVID-19 pandemic can provide a powerful impetus for
ecologists, epidemiologists, sociologists, and biomedical researchers to develop an
expanded invasion science that makes broader contributions to global biosecurity by
Journal Pre-proof
Journal Pre-proof
embracing the philosophy of the One Health Initiative whose goal is to achieve
optimal public health outcomes by monitoring and managing the interactions between
humans, animals, and their environment [10]. Burgeoning studies have combined
wildlife epidemiology with biogeography and community ecology, and ecologists
recognize the compatibility of concepts of disease ecology and biological invasions
[1113]. Indeed, ecological research has revealed complex, indirect effects that
invasions can have on human disease risk [9,14]. Invasion science, a broad field
devoted to understanding the processes behind the spread and impact of novel
organisms, is positioned to help prevent, control and potentially eradicate harmful
invasive organisms such as SARS-CoV-2, thereby allowing a more sustainable human
existence within an increasingly altered natural world.
Biomedical research on emergent infectious diseases would benefit from what
invasion science can offer in terms of, for example, 1) a consolidated array of
frameworks for studying the consequences of eco-evolutionary novelty, and specifically
the release of organisms lacking ecological analogues in their recipient environments
[4]; 2) expanding knowledge of the eco-evolutionary factors that determine the success
of transitions between stages of invasion (Figure 1), which are influenced by a
combination of human activities, environmental conditions, and their feedbacks
[4,11,12]; and 3) a rich literature on the context-dependent dynamics and predictive
modeling of organismal spread and their effects.
However, although some invasion biologists have advocated greater integration
of their field with human epidemiology, published evidence of cross-disciplinary
research applied to emergent infectious diseases remains relatively meager. Ogden and
colleagues [12] noted the scarcity of examples where the application of human
epidemiology to biological invasions or invasion biology to emerging infectious
diseases has resulted in improved prevention or control. Undoubtedly, there is a need
for further advancement of cross-disciplinary approaches toward applied research and
management of invasive human pathogens.
Owing to international sharing of spatiotemporal data, the spread of SARS-CoV-
2 is the most meticulously mapped biological invasion ever documented on a global
scale [15]. This unprecedented rapid sharing of information, particularly from the early
stages of an invasion is not only an extraordinary opportunity for advancing the
frontiers of invasion biology and epidemiology, but also demonstrates the potential for
global cooperation in biosurveillance of all types of novel organismal threats. Emerging
infectious diseases and invasive organisms in general are increasing in frequency with
no sign of saturation [2,8] and their prediction, prevention, and control are a societal
priority. A cross-disciplinary invasion science offers valuable underexploited
frameworks and insights that can facilitate such initiatives and we hope the COVID19
pandemic will serve to catalyze greater collaboration.
Acknowledgements: We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and W.
Policelli for help with the figure. AP funded by CONICYT PIA AFB170008
Journal Pre-proof
Journal Pre-proof
1. Afelt, A. et al. (2018) Bats, coronaviruses, and deforestation: toward the emergence
of novel infectious diseases? Front. Microbiol. 9, 702
2. Smith K.F. et al. (2014) Global rise in human infectious disease outbreaks. J. R. Soc.
Interface 11, 20140950
3. Ricciardi, A. et al. (2017) Invasion science: a horizon scan of emerging challenges
and opportunities. Trends Ecol. Evol. 32, 464474
4. Jeschke, J.M. et al. (2013) Novel organisms: comparing invasive species, GMOs, and
emerging pathogens. Ambio 42, 541548
5. Saul, W.C. and Jeschke, J.M. (2015) Eco-evolutionary experience in novel species
interactions. Ecol. Lett. 18, 236245
6. Ricciardi, A. et al. (2013). Progress toward understanding the ecological impacts of
non-native species. Ecol. Monogr. 83, 263282
7. Davis, K.T. et al. (2019) Severity of impacts of an introduced species corresponds
with regional eco-evolutionary experience. Ecography 42, 1222
8. Seebens, H. et al. (2017) No saturation in the accumulation of alien species
worldwide. Nature Comm. 8, 14435
9. Stoett, P. et al. (2019) Invasive alien species and planetary and global health policy.
Lancet Planet. Health 3, e400e401
10. Destoumieux-Garzón, D. et al. (2018) The One Health concept: 10 years old and a
long road ahead. Front. Vet. Sci. 5, 14
11. Hatcher, M.J. et al. (2012) Disease emergence and invasions. Funct. Ecol. 26,
12. Ogden, N.H. et al. (2019) Emerging infectious diseases and biological invasions: a
call for a One Health collaboration in science and management. R. Soc. Open Sci. 6,
13. Conn, D.B. (2014) Aquatic invasive species and emerging infectious disease threats:
a One Health perspective. Aquat. Invas. 9, 383390
14. Hoyer, I.J. et al. (2017) Mammal decline, linked to invasive Burmese python, shifts
host use of vector mosquito towards reservoir hosts of a zoonotic disease. Biol. Lett.
13, 20170353
15. Bertelsmeier, C. and Ollier, S. (2020) International tracking of the COVID-19
invasion: an amazing example of a globalized scientific coordination effort. Biol.
Invas., in press
Journal Pre-proof
Journal Pre-proof
Figure 1. Stages of a zoonotic viral epidemic compared with those of a biological
invasion. Similar stage-based processes affect the spread of infectious zoonotic
pathogens (such as SARS-CoV-2) and non-pathogenic invasive organisms,
demonstrating the need for a common set of international management actions (e.g.
early detection, rapid response, eradication or containment, mitigation) appropriate to
each stage of the process.
Journal Pre-proof
... El primero, impartido por el Dr. Bernard Ballat (exdirector de la World Organisation for Animal Health, OMSA, fundada como OIE desde 2001 a 2010), titulado "El vínculo hombre-animalmedio ambiente: desafíos para el futuro", tuvo como objetivo dar a conocer el concepto de OH y sus implicaciones. El segundo seminario, liderado por el Prof. Dr. Aníbal Pauchard (Profesor Titular de la Universidad de Concepción, fundador del Laboratorio de Invasiones Biológicas y Director del Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad de Chile), titulado "Biodiversidad y salud: aprendizaje desde las invasiones biológicas", cuyo objetivo fue exponer una perspectiva ecosistémica a todas y todos los alumnos participantes, para entender la complejidad de las interrelaciones entre naturaleza y bienestar humano, tomando el caso de las enfermedades contagiosas como proceso de invasión biológica (Nuñez et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
Capítulo 1 Internacionalización en educación superior: conceptos y reflexiones / internationalization in higher education: concepts and reflections Capítulo 2 Plan de fortalecimiento de la internacionalización del pregrado de la universidad de concepción / plan to strengthen internationalization of undergraduate programs at universidad de concepción Capítulo 3 Innovación educativa a través de fondos concursables para la promoción de la internacionalización en la formación de pregrado / educational innovation through grant funding for the promotion of internationalization in undergraduate education Capítulo 4 ¡¡¡Hablemos de farmacología!!! / let’s talk about pharmacology!!! Capítulo 5 Telecolaboración y competencias interculturales para una ciudadanía global / telecollaboration and intercultural competencies for global citizenship Capítulo 6 Desarrollo de una cátedra internacional e interdisciplinaria para el abordaje científico de la salud integral / development of an international and interdisciplinary seminar for a scientific approach to comprehensive health Capítulo 7 Desarrollo de habilidades socioemocionales para gestionar contextos de crisis: una experiencia con estudiantes universitarios / development of socio-emotional skills to manage crisis contexts: an experience with university students Capítulo 8 Formación interprofesional: one health, una oportunidad de innovación docente que fortalece la interdisciplina e internacionalización de las universidades / interprofessional formation: one health, an opportunity for teacher innovation that strengthens universities interdiscipline and internationalization Capítulo 9 La virtualización de la movilidad estudiantil: experiencias y desafíos de la implementación del programa emovies en la universidad de concepción / student mobility virtualization: experiences and challenges in implementing the emovies program at university of concepción Citación: Carola Bruna Jofré, Daniela Silva Valeria & Victoria Escobar García (Coords) (2023). Internacionalización en la Formación Universitaria. Innovando en el Concepto de Movilidad. Concepción, Chile: Editorial Universidad de Concepción. ISBN 978-956-9280-48-1.
... El primero, impartido por el Dr. Bernard Ballat (exdirector de la World Organisation for Animal Health, OMSA, fundada como OIE desde 2001 a 2010), titulado "El vínculo hombre-animalmedio ambiente: desafíos para el futuro", tuvo como objetivo dar a conocer el concepto de OH y sus implicaciones. El segundo seminario, liderado por el Prof. Dr. Aníbal Pauchard (Profesor Titular de la Universidad de Concepción, fundador del Laboratorio de Invasiones Biológicas y Director del Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad de Chile), titulado "Biodiversidad y salud: aprendizaje desde las invasiones biológicas", cuyo objetivo fue exponer una perspectiva ecosistémica a todas y todos los alumnos participantes, para entender la complejidad de las interrelaciones entre naturaleza y bienestar humano, tomando el caso de las enfermedades contagiosas como proceso de invasión biológica (Nuñez et al., 2020). ...
... Understanding invasive hematophagous arthropods as vectors of pathogens presents an opportunity to draw parallels between invasion and infectious disease sciences while reducing impacts (Nuñez et al. 2020). It is therefore imperative to develop a sound understanding of the underlying biology and ecology of the most impactful vector species to prevent, mitigate, and manage biological invasion, disease emergence and the myriad of issues around the proliferation of arthropod vectors. ...
Full-text available
Invasive hematophagous arthropods threaten planetary health by vectoring a growing diversity of pathogens and parasites which cause diseases. Efforts to limit human and animal morbidity and mortality caused by these disease vectors are dependent on understandings of their biology and ecology-from cellular to ecosystem levels. Here, we review research into the biology and ecology of inva-sive hematophagous arthropods globally, with a particular emphasis on mosquitoes, culminating towards management recommendations. Evolutionary history , genetics, and environmental filtering contribute to invasion success of these taxa, with life history trait and ecological niche shifts between native and invaded regions regularly documented. Pertinent vector species spread readily through active and passive means, via anthropogenic and natural mechanisms as climate changes. The rate and means of spread differ among taxa according to their capacity for entrain-ment in human vectors and physiology. It is critical to understand the role of these invaders in novel ecosystems , as biotic interactions, principally with their resources, competitors, and natural enemies, mediate patterns of invasion success. We further highlight recent advances in understanding interactions among arthropod-associated microbiota, and identify future research directions integrating arthropod microbiota to explain invasion success under changing environments. These biological and ecological facets provide an integrative perspective on the invasion history and dynamics of invasive hematophagous arthropods, helping inform on their management strategies.
... Recently, the near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technique has been successfully used to detect Zika and chikungunya infection in dead Ae. aegypti female mosquitoes [74], providing a rapid and cost-effective arbovirus surveillance tool with high accuracy levels (> 90%). Moreover, a better understanding of invasions and emerging diseases associated with hematophagous arthropods provides a study system that will inform on the management of other pandemics, such as COVID-19, given the obvious links between invasion science and infectious disease transmission [75]. ...
Full-text available
Biological invasions have increased significantly with the tremendous growth of international trade and transport. Hematophagous arthropods can be vectors of infectious and potentially lethal pathogens and parasites, thus constituting a growing threat to humans—especially when associated with biological invasions. Today, several major vector-borne diseases, currently described as emerging or re-emerging, are expanding in a world dominated by climate change, land-use change and intensive transportation of humans and goods. In this review, we retrace the historical trajectory of these invasions to better understand their ecological, physiological and genetic drivers and their impacts on ecosystems and human health. We also discuss arthropod management strategies to mitigate future risks by harnessing ecology, public health, economics and social-ethnological considerations. Trade and transport of goods and materials, including vertebrate introductions and worn tires, have historically been important introduction pathways for the most prominent invasive hematophagous arthropods, but sources and pathways are likely to diversify with future globalization. Burgeoning urbanization, climate change and the urban heat island effect are likely to interact to favor invasive hematophagous arthropods and the diseases they can vector. To mitigate future invasions of hematophagous arthropods and novel disease outbreaks, stronger preventative monitoring and transboundary surveillance measures are urgently required. Proactive approaches, such as the use of monitoring and increased engagement in citizen science, would reduce epidemiological and ecological risks and could save millions of lives and billions of dollars spent on arthropod control and disease management. Last, our capacities to manage invasive hematophagous arthropods in a sustainable way for worldwide ecosystems can be improved by promoting interactions among experts of the health sector, stakeholders in environmental issues and policymakers (e.g. the One Health approach) while considering wider social perceptions. Graphical abstract
Comparing is at the origin of what is termed “to measure.” Before numbers (probably ca. 4000 years ago), language hosted descriptions that stood for what was measured. Comparisons evolved from being dominantly qualitative to becoming quantitative.
Full-text available
One Biosecurity is an interdisciplinary approach to policy and research that builds on the interconnections between human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health to effectively prevent and mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species. To support this approach requires that key cross-sectoral research innovations be identified and prioritized. Following an interdisciplinary horizon scan for emerging research that underpins One Biosecurity, four major interlinked advances were identified: implementation of new surveillance technologies adopting state-of-the-art sensors connected to the Internet of Things, deployable handheld molecular and genomic tracing tools, the incorporation of wellbeing and diverse human values into biosecurity decision-making, and sophisticated socio-environmental models and data capture. The relevance and applicability of these innovations to address threats from pathogens, pests, and weeds in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems emphasize the opportunity to build critical mass around interdisciplinary teams at a global scale that can rapidly advance science solutions targeting biosecurity threats.
Full-text available
It is extraordinary to witness the spread of COVID-19 almost in real-time. This tight monitoring of the invasion of a new virus is a situation that most other invasion scientists could only dream of. Especially spatiotemporal spread data of the early phases of an invasion would be extremely useful in order to understand and predict the human-mediated spread of species around the globe. So far, invasive species that directly affect human health, such as the Sars-Cov-2 virus causing COVID-19, have been treated differently from invasive species affecting environmental health. Despite progresses in constructing large checklists of invasive species, these records often enter the databases only decades after the establishment of the organism in a country. This is inadequate to understand ongoing spread dynamics and estimate current invasion risks. Yet, national services often possess extremely useful information about early detections and interceptions of species at air and maritime ports, which could greatly improve predictions and help set management priorities. Considering the massive impacts of invasive species, it is time to move on to such a collaborative way of handling invasion data. Invasive insects, birds, mammals, fungi, and other species are the result of globalization and call for a globalized response, exactly like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full-text available
The study and management of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and of biological invasions both address the ecology of human-associated biological phenomena in a rapidly changing world. However, the two fields work mostly in parallel rather than in concert. This review explores how the general phenomenon of an organism rapidly increasing in range or abundance is caused, highlights the similarities and differences between research on EIDs and invasions and discusses shared management insights and approaches. EIDs can arise by: (i) crossing geographical barriers due to human-mediated dispersal, (ii) crossing compatibility barriers due to evolution, and (iii) lifting of environmental barriers due to environmental change. All these processes can be implicated in biological invasions, but only the first defines them. Research on EIDs is embedded within the One Health concept—the notion that human, animal and ecosystem health are interrelated and that holistic approaches.
Full-text available
Invasive plant impacts vary widely across introduced ranges. We tested the hypothesis that differences in the eco‐evolutionary experience of native communities with the invader correspond with the impacts of invasive species on native vegetation, with impacts increasing with ecological novelty. We compared plant species richness and composition beneath Pinus contorta to that in adjacent vegetation and other P. contorta stands across a network of sites in its native (Canada and USA) and non‐native (Argentina, Chile, Finland, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden) ranges. At sites in North America and Europe, within the natural distribution of the genus Pinus, P. contorta was not associated with decreases in diversity. In the Southern Hemisphere, where there are no native Pinaceae, plant communities beneath P. contorta were less diverse than in other regions and compared to uninvaded native vegetation. Effects on native vegetation were particularly pronounced where P. contorta was a more novel life form and exhibited higher growth rates. Our results support the hypothesis that the eco‐evolutionary experience of the native vegetation, and thus the novelty of the invader, determines the magnitude of invader impacts on native communities. Understanding the eco‐evolutionary context of invasions will help to better understand and predict where invasion impacts will be greatest and to prioritize invasive species management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
Coronaviruses (CoV) were for a long time associated with several major veterinary diseases such as avian infectious coronavirus, calf diarrhea, winter dysentery, respiratory infections (BRD-BCoV) in cattle, SDCV, PEDV, SECD in swine and dog, intestinal disease or Feline Infectious Peritonitis (Saif, 2014), and the human mild and common cold. However, SARS emerged in 2002 in China and spread across 29 other countries with a 10% death rate. More recently, the MERS-CoV outbreak in Saudi Arabia in 2012 displayed a death rate of 38%. The emergence of these two events of highly pathogenic CoVs shed light on the threat posed by coronaviruses to humans. Bats are hosting many viruses (Calisher et al., 2006) and in particular coronaviruses, which represent 31% of their virome (Chen et al., 2014). Furthermore, bats display a remarkable resistance to viruses (Omatsu et al., 2007; Storm et al., 2018). The risk of emergence of a novel bat-CoV disease can therefore be envisioned.
Full-text available
Over the past decade, a significant increase in the circulation of infectious agents was observed. With the spread and emergence of epizootics, zoonoses and epidemics, the risks of pandemics became more and more critical. Human and animal health has also been threatened by antimicrobial resistance, environmental pollution and the development of multifactorial and chronic diseases. This highlighted the increasing globalization of health risks and the importance of the human-animal-ecosystem interface in the evolution and emergence of pathogens. A better knowledge of causes and consequences of certain human activities, lifestyles and behaviors in ecosystems is crucial for a rigorous interpretation of disease dynamics and to drive public policies. As a global good, health security must be understood on a global scale and from a global and cross-cutting perspective, integrating human health, animal health, plant health, ecosystems health and biodiversity. In this paper, we discuss how crucial it is to consider ecological, evolutionary and environmental sciences in understanding the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases and in facing the challenges of antimicrobial resistance. We also discuss the application of the “One Health” concept to non-communicable chronic diseases linked to exposure to multiple stresses, including toxic stress, and new lifestyles. Finally, we draw up a list of barriers that need removing and the ambitions that we must nurture for the effective application of the “One Health” concept. We conclude that the success of this One Health concept now requires breaking down the interdisciplinary barriers that still separate human and veterinary medicine from ecological, evolutionary and environmental sciences. The development of integrative approaches should be promoted by linking the study of factors underlying stress responses to their consequences on ecosystem functioning and evolution. This knowledge is required for the development of novel control strategies inspired by environmental mechanisms leading to desired equilibrium and dynamics in healthy ecosystems and must provide in the near future a framework for more integrated operational initiatives.
Full-text available
Invasive apex predators have profound impacts on natural communities, yet the consequences of these impacts on the transmission of zoonotic pathogens are unexplored. Collapse of large- and medium-sized mammal populations in the Florida Everglades has been linked to the invasive Burmese python, Python bivittatus Kuhl. We used historic and current data to investigate potential impacts of these community effects on contact between the reservoir hosts (certain rodents) and vectors of Everglades virus, a zoonotic mosquito-borne pathogen that circulates in southern Florida. The percentage of blood meals taken from the primary reservoir host, the hispid cotton rat, Sigmodon hispidus Say and Ord, increased dramatically (422.2%) from 1979 (14.7%) to 2016 (76.8%), while blood meals from deer, raccoons and opossums decreased by 98.2%, reflecting precipitous declines in relative abundance of these larger mammals, attributed to python predation. Overall species diversity of hosts detected in Culex cedecei blood meals from the Everglades declined by 40.2% over the same period (H(1979) ¼ 1.68, H(2016) ¼ 1.01). Predictions based upon the dilution effect theory suggest that increased relative feedings upon reservoir hosts translate into increased abundance of infectious vectors, and a corresponding upsurge of Everglades virus occurrence and risk of human exposure, although this was not tested in the current study. This work constitutes the first indication that an invasive predator can increase contact between vectors and reservoirs of a human pathogen and highlights unrecognized indirect impacts of invasive predators. © 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
Although research on human-mediated exchanges of species has substantially intensified during the last centuries, we know surprisingly little about temporal dynamics of alien species accumulations across regions and taxa. Using a novel database of 45,813 first records of 16,926 established alien species, we show that the annual rate of first records worldwide has increased during the last 200 years, with 37% of all first records reported most recently (1970–2014). Inter-continental and inter-taxonomic variation can be largely attributed to the diaspora of European settlers in the nineteenth century and to the acceleration in trade in the twentieth century. For all taxonomic groups, the increase in numbers of alien species does not show any sign of saturation and most taxa even show increases in the rate of first records over time. This highlights that past efforts to mitigate invasions have not been effective enough to keep up with increasing globalization.
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are recognized as having significant social, economic and ecological costs, threatening human health, food security, wildlife conservation and biodiversity. We review the processes underlying the emergence of infectious disease, focusing on the similarities and differences between conceptual models of disease emergence and biological invasions in general.Study of the IUCN's list of the world's worst invaders reveals that disease is cited as a driver behind the conservation, medical or economic impact of nearly a quarter of the species on the data base.The emergence of novel diseases in new host species are, in essence, examples of invasions by parasites. Many of the ecological and anthropogenic drivers of disease emergence and classical invasions are also shared, with environmental change and global transport providing opportunities for the introduction and spread of invaders and novel parasites.The phases of disease emergence and biological invasions have many parallels; particularly the early and late phases, where demographic and anthropogenic factors are key drivers. However, there are also differences in the intermediate phases, where host-parasite co-evolution plays a crucial role in determining parasite establishment in novel hosts.Similar opportunities and constraints on control and management occur at the different phases of invasions and disease emergence. However, exploitation of host immune responses offers additional control opportunities through contact control and vaccination against EIDs. We propose that cross-fertilization between the disciplines of disease emergence and invasion biology may provide further insights into their prediction, control and management.
We identified emerging scientific, technological, and sociopolitical issues likely to affect how biological invasions are studied and managed over the next two decades. Issues were ranked according to their probability of emergence, pervasiveness, potential impact, and novelty. Top-ranked issues include the application of genomic modification tools to control invasions, effects of Arctic globalization on invasion risk in the Northern Hemisphere, commercial use of microbes to facilitate crop production, the emergence of invasive microbial pathogens, and the fate of intercontinental trade agreements. These diverse issues suggest an expanding interdisciplinary role for invasion science in biosecurity and ecosystem management, burgeoning applications of biotechnology in alien species detection and control, and new frontiers in the microbial ecology of invasions.