Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Introduction, spread, and impacts of invasive alien mammal species in Europe.

Abstract

Biological invasions have emerged as one of the main drivers of biodiversity change and decline, and numbers of species classed as alien in parts of their ranges are rapidly rising. The European Union established a dedicated regulation to limit the impacts of invasive alien species (IAS), which is focused on the species on a Union List of IAS of particular concern. However, no previous study has specifically addressed the ecology of invasive alien mammals included on the Union List. (2)We performed a systematic review of published literature on these species. We retrieved 262 publications dealing with 16 species, and we complemented these with the most up-to-date information extracted from global databases on IAS. (3) We show that most of the study species reached Europe as pets and then escaped from captivity or were intentionally released. On average each year in the period 1981-2020, 1.2 species were recorded for the first time as aliens in European countries, and most species are still expanding their alien ranges by colonising neighbouring territories. France is the most invaded nation, followed by Germany, Italy, and the Russian Federation, and the muskrat Ondatra zibethicus, the American mink Neovison vison, and the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides are the most widespread species, having invaded at least 27 countries each. Invasive mammals of European Union concern are threatening native biodiversity and human well-being: worryingly, 81% of the 16 study species are implicated in the epidemiological cycle of zoonotic pathogens. (4) Containing secondary spread to further countries is of paramount importance to avoid the establishment of new populations of invasive mammals and the related impacts on native communities, ecosystem services, and human health. (5) We present a compendium on the ecology and impacts of invasive mammals of European Union concern. It can be used to assist environmental policies, identify and subsequently fill knowledge gaps, and inform stakeholders.