Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Animal invaders threaten protected areas worldwide.

Abstract

Protected areas are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation. However, alien species invasion is an increasing threat to biodiversity, and the extent to which protected areas worldwide are resistant to incursions of alien species remains poorly understood. Here, we investigate establishment by 894 terrestrial alien animals from 11 taxonomic groups including vertebrates and invertebrates across 199,957 protected areas at the global scale. We find that <10% of protected areas are home to any of the alien animals, but there is at least one established population within 10-100 km of the boundaries of 89%-99% of protected areas, while >95% of protected areas are environmentally suitable for establishment. Higher alien richness is observed in IUCN category-II national parks supposedly with stricter protection, and in larger protected areas with higher human footprint and more recent designation. Our results demonstrate that protected areas provide important protection from biological invasions, but invasions may become an increasingly dominant problem in the near future.