Antarctica: the final frontier for marine biological invasions.
Antarctica is experiencing significant ecological and environmental change, which may facilitate the establishment of non-native marine species. Non-native marine species will interact with other anthropogenic stressors affecting Antarctic ecosystems, such as climate change (warming, ocean acidification) and pollution, with irreversible ramifications for biodiversity and ecosystem services. We review current knowledge of non-native marine species in the Antarctic region, the physical and physiological factors that resist establishment of non-native marine species, changes to resistance under climate change, the role of legislation in limiting marine introductions, and the effect of increasing human activity on vectors and pathways of introduction. Evidence of non-native marine species is limited: just four marine non-native and one cryptogenic species that were likely introduced anthropogenically have been reported freely living in Antarctic or sub-Antarctic waters, but no established populations have been reported; an additional six species have been observed in pathways to Antarctica that are potentially at risk of becoming invasive. We present estimates of the intensity of ship activity across fishing, tourism and research sectors: there may be approximately 180 vessels and 500+ voyages in Antarctic waters annually. However, these estimates are necessarily speculative because relevant data are scarce. To facilitate well-informed policy and management, we make recommendations for future research into the likelihood of marine biological invasions in the Antarctic region.