Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Invasive wild pigs: a significant disturbance in coastal forests.

Abstract

Introduced in ~59 countries and native across Europe and Asia, wild pigs, Sus scrofa, are the most wide-spread swine species in the world. As ecosystem engineers, wild pigs are a significant source of disturbance in introduced ecosystems due to their numerous, complex impacts on ecosystem processes. Wild pigs are often found in the resource-rich habitat of coastal forests. Coastal forests are complex, dynamic systems with tremendous biodiversity. Exposed to recurrent disturbances, the biophysical characteristics of coastal forests contribute to their ability to return to their original state post-disturbance. However, compounding disturbances can weaken this ability and threaten the health and function of the ecosystem. In this review, through the model of the forests of the southeastern United States Coastal Plain, we (1) describe conditions found across the forested coastal landscape, (2) describe wild pig disturbance, and (3) discuss how wild pig impacts can add to significant anthropogenic and climate-related disturbances threatening coastal forests. Through this review, we find that the impacts of wild pig disturbance on coastal forests often have similar effects as anthropogenic and climate change-related disturbances that may enhance these significant threats to coastal forest function and resiliency.