Assessing the ecological risk posed by a recently established invasive alien predator: Harmonia axyridis as a case study.
Invasive alien predators are a serious threat to biodiversity worldwide. However, there is no generic method for assessing which local species are most at risk following the invasion of a new predator. The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), is an alien in Europe and many other parts of the world where it affects other species of ladybirds through competition for food and intra-guild predation (IGP). Here, we describe a method developed to assess which European ladybird species are most at risk following the invasion of H. axyridis. The three components of the risk assessment are: the likelihood that the assessed native species encounters H. axyridis in the field, the hazard of competition for food, and the IGP hazard. Thirty native European ladybird species were assessed through data obtained from field observations, laboratory experiments and literature reviews. The species that are considered most at risk are found on deciduous trees, have immature stages which are highly vulnerable to IGP by H. axyridis, and are primarily aphidophagous. These species should be the focus of specific studies and possibly conservation actions. The risk assessment method proposed here could be applied to other alien predators which are considered a threat to native species through competition and predation.