Brief Communications

Nature 416, 808-809 (25 April 2002) | doi:10.1038/416808a

Biodiversity: Invasions by marine life on plastic debris

David K. A. Barnes

Colonization by alien species poses one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity1. Here I investigate the colonization by marine organisms of drift debris deposited on the shores of 30 remote islands from the Arctic to the Antarctic (across all oceans) and find that human litter more than doubles the rafting opportunities for biota, particularly at high latitudes. Although the poles may be protected from invasion by freezing sea surface temperatures, these may be under threat as the fastest-warming areas anywhere2 are at these latitudes.