Global ecological impacts of marine exotic species

A Matters Arising to this article was published on 17 February 2020

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 02 August 2019

This article has been updated

Abstract

Exotic species are a growing global ecological threat; however, their overall effects are insufficiently understood. While some exotic species are implicated in many species extinctions, others can provide benefits to the recipient communities. Here, we performed a meta-analysis to quantify and synthesize the ecological effects of 76 exotic marine species (about 6% of the listed exotics) on ten variables in marine communities. These species caused an overall significant, but modest in magnitude (as indicated by a mean effect size of g < 0.2), decrease in ecological variables. Marine primary producers and predators were the most disruptive trophic groups of the exotic species. Approximately 10% (that is, 2 out of 19) of the exotic species assessed in at least three independent studies had significant impacts on native species. Separating the innocuous from the disruptive exotic species provides a basis for triage efforts to control the marine exotic species that have the most impact, thereby helping to meet Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

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Fig. 1: Effect of marine exotic species depends on the trophic levels of the native species or community and the exotic species.
Fig. 2: Network diagram of the ecological effects of marine exotics on native species classified by trophic level and taxonomic group.
Fig. 3: Mean effect size (Hedges’ g± 95% CI) of marine exotic species on response variables classified by the levels of ecological complexity.
Fig. 4: Mean effect size (Hedges’ g ± 95% CI) of marine exotic species based on different variables.
Fig. 5: Ranking of the 19 sufficiently assessed marine exotic species based on the species mean effect size.

Data availability

All data underlying the study have been deposited in PANGAEA at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.895681.

Code availability

The R script used in this manuscript will be deposited in the Github community repository upon publication (https://github.com/ngeraldi/marine-exotics-global-analysis).

Change history

  • 02 August 2019

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to the following individuals: S. Ghani for conducting the network diagrams for Fig. 2, using resources and services at the Visualization Core Lab at KAUST; I. Ferri for advice on the design of Fig. 5; and C. Nelson for her assistance organizing the Invasive Species Workshop at KAUST. This research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through baseline funding to C.M.D., by Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020) (grant no. 659246) to S.B., by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Agencia Estatal de Investigación (Spanish Agencia Estatal de Investigación) (grant no. FJCI – 2016 – 30728) to S.B., by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Agencia Estatal de Investigación (Spanish Agencia Estatal de Investigación) (grant no. CGL 2015 – 71809 – P) to N.M., J.S.-G. and S.B., and by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (grant no. CE 140100020) to J.M.P.

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C.M.D., A.A., C.E.L. and N.R.G. conceived and designed the study. A.A., N.R.G., C.E.L., E.T.A., S.B., J.C., D.K.-J., N.M., P.M., J.M.P. and J.S.-G. constructed the dataset. A.A. and N.R.G. performed the data analyses with contributions from all co-authors. All authors contributed to writing and improving the manuscript and approved the submission.

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Correspondence to Andrea Anton.

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Anton, A., Geraldi, N.R., Lovelock, C.E. et al. Global ecological impacts of marine exotic species. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 787–800 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0851-0

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