Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Hope and caution: rewilding to mitigate the impacts of biological invasions.

Abstract

Rewilding is a novel approach to ecological restoration. Trophic rewilding in particular aims to reinstate ecological functions, especially trophic interactions, through the introduction of animals. We consider the potential for trophic rewilding to address biological invasions. In this broad review, we note some of the important conceptual and ethical foundations of rewilding, including a focus on ecosystem function rather than composition, reliance on animal agency, and an appeal to an ethic of coexistence. Second, we use theory from invasion biology to highlight pathways by which rewilding might prevent or mitigate the impacts of an invasion, including increasing biotic resistance. Third, we use a series of case studies to illustrate how reintroductions can mitigate the impacts of invasions. These include reintroductions and positive management of carnivores and herbivores including European pine martens (Martes martes), Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra), dingoes (Canis dingo), Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) and tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes). Fourth, we consider the risk that rewilding may enable a biological invasion or aggravate its impacts. Lastly, we highlight lessons that rewilding science might take from invasion biology. This article is part of the theme issue 'Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change'.