What affects the probability of biological invasions in Antarctica? Using an expanded conceptual framework to anticipate the risk of alien species expansion.
Successful alien species invasion depends on many factors studied mostly in post invasion habitats, and subsequently summarized in frameworks tailored to describe the studied invasion. We used an existing expanded framework with three groups of contributing factors: habitat invisibility, system context and species invasiveness, to analyze the probability of alien species invasions in terrestrial communities of Maritime Antarctic in the future. We focused on the first two factor groups. We tested if the expanded framework could be used under a different scenario. We chose Point Thomas Oasis on King George Island to perform our analysis. Strong geographical barrier, low potential bioclimatic suitability and resource availability associated with habitat invasibility significantly reduce the likelihood of biological invasion in Antarctica. An almost full enemy release (low pressure of consumers), the high patchiness of the habitat, and the prevalence of open gaps also associated with habitat invasibility increase the possibility of invasion. The dynamics of functional connectivity, propagule pressure and spatio-temporal patterns of propagule arrival associated with human activity and climate change belonging to the system context contribute to an increase in the threat of invasions. Due to the still low land transport activity migration pathways are limited and will reduce the spread of alien terrestrial organisms by land. An effective way of preventing invasions in Antarctica seems to lie in reducing propagule pressure and eliminating alien populations as early as possible. The expanded conceptual framework opens up wider possibilities in analyzing invasions taking place in different systems and with multiple taxa.