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Meta-analysis reveals less sensitivity of non-native animals than natives to extreme weather worldwide

Abstract

Extreme weather events (EWEs; for example, heatwaves, cold spells, storms, floods and droughts) and non-native species invasions are two major threats to global biodiversity and are increasing in both frequency and consequences. Here we synthesize 443 studies and apply multilevel mixed-effects metaregression analyses to compare the responses of 187 non-native and 1,852 native animal species across terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems to different types of EWE. Our results show that marine animals, regardless of whether they are non-native or native, are overall insensitive to EWEs, except for negative effects of heatwaves on native mollusks, corals and anemone. By contrast, terrestrial and freshwater non-native animals are only adversely affected by heatwaves and storms, respectively, whereas native animals negatively respond to heatwaves, cold spells and droughts in terrestrial ecosystems and are vulnerable to most EWEs except cold spells in freshwater ecosystems. On average, non-native animals displayed low abundance in terrestrial ecosystems, and decreased body condition and life history traits in freshwater ecosystems, whereas native animals displayed declines in body condition, life history traits, abundance, distribution and recovery in terrestrial ecosystems, and community structure in freshwater ecosystems. By identifying areas with high overlap between EWEs and EWE-tolerant non-native species, we also provide locations where native biodiversity might be adversely affected by their joint effects and where EWEs might facilitate the establishment and/or spread of non-native species under continuing global change.

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Fig. 1: Distribution of non-native and native species under EWEs from 443 studies.
Fig. 2: Sample effect sizes of non-native and native species in responding to EWEs.
Fig. 3: A comparison of non-native (circle) and native species (triangle) responses to five different types of EWE.
Fig. 4: A comparison of non-native (circle) and native (triangle) species responses to EWEs for eight response variables.
Fig. 5: Overlapping areas between potential distributions of non-native species that are tolerant of EWEs and EWE hotspots worldwide.

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Data availability

All data have been deposited in a public structured data depository (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.23587695). Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The R code for running the main analyses is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.23587695.

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