Alien Invasions Descend on Britain

This month two major invasive species meetings are being held in Britain. First is the Island Invasives conference in Dundee, and later in the month a symposium on the macroecology of alien species. Each meeting will give a unique perspective on the science and management of invasive alien species around the world. The Island Invasives conference is the 3rd in a series of conference held about every decade. The last two conferences were hosted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The conference series focuses on the management, and particularly eradication, of invasive species from islands. The previous two conferences; turning the tide and island invasives, had major books published as their outputs. This third conference is being hosted by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and partners and held at the University of Dundee. Over 400 participants will listen to over 80 talks on the management of invasive species from around the world.

Island Invasives 2017 conference (Source: Island Invasives 2017)

Whereas the Island Invasives conference will showcase what can be achieved through dedicated local and regional management efforts, such as the eradication of introduced rodents from massive South Georgia Island, the British Ecological Society symposium on the macroecology of alien species will take a more global view on the patterns and processes that underpin alien species biogeography. This focused symposium at the University of Durham will host over 25 speakers delivering the current state of the art in the macroecology of invasive species.

Aerial view of South Georgia Island
Aerial view of South Georgia Island (Source: Tony Martin)

Today invasions are indeed everywhere, and they have far-reaching consequences for both the science of ecology and the management of our natural systems. The IUCN is currently consulting on an environmental impact classification of alien taxa: from minimal to massive. Once such a classification is in place, it will provide an analogue to the IUCN red list for endangered species. Regardless of how one feels about the relative value of native versus alien species, we must all take responsibility for species introduced by humans which go on to have negative impacts on their recipient ecosystems.

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Conservation biologist Dr. James Russell works throughout the world on remote islands and other sites to provide conservation solutions by applying a combination of scientific methods. Follow James on National Geographic voices for regular updates on his own work or other exciting developments in island conservation.