Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Alien versus native species as drivers of recent extinctions.

Abstract

Native plants and animals can rapidly become superabundant and dominate ecosystems, leading to claims that native species are no less likely than alien species to cause environmental damage, including biodiversity loss. We compared how frequently alien and native species have been implicated as drivers of recent extinctions in a comprehensive global database, the 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Alien species were considered to be a contributing cause of 25% of plant extinctions and 33% of animal extinctions, whereas native species were implicated in less than 5% and 3% of plant and animal extinctions, respectively. When listed as a putative driver of recent extinctions, native species were more often associated with other extinction drivers than were alien species. Our results offer additional evidence that the biogeographic origin, and hence evolutionary history, of a species are determining factors of its potential to cause disruptive environmental impacts.