The role of waterbirds in the dispersal of aquatic alien and invasive species

Reynolds, Chevonne, Miranda, Nelson A.F., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2015) The role of waterbirds in the dispersal of aquatic alien and invasive species. Diversity and Distributions, 21 (7). pp. 744-754.

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Aim: To review existing literature on the ability of waterbirds to spread aquatic alien and invasive species, and to assess the relevance of bird-mediated dispersal for the conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

Location: Global.

Methods: Literature Review.

Results: A systematic review of the literature revealed that quantitative studies investigating dispersal of alien organisms by waterbirds are rare (n = 14). Most studies citing waterbird dispersal rely on anecdotes or inferences from morphological dispersal syndromes. However, evidence from each stage of dispersal (i.e. emigration, transport and immigration) shows that waterbirds can carry alien plants and invertebrates internally and externally; transport them between water bodies at a variety of spatial scales; and deposit viable propagules in sites suited to aquatic invasive species.

Main conclusions: Our review suggests that waterbirds can and do act as important dispersal vectors for freshwater invasive species. Further experimental and field based research on the numbers and viability of moved alien propagules, and the roles of different species in the bird community, is needed. Furthermore, consideration of the spatially explicit manner in which birds move is imperative to understanding invasive spread. Populations of alien aquatic species in seemingly isolated wetlands can no longer be considered contained if they are able to be spread through waterbird-mediated dispersal, and containment measures must recognize such opportunities for further spread. Changing waterbird movement patterns, driven by climate and land use change, further add to the challenge of managing invasive species and offers an interesting opportunity for future research. The study of waterbird-mediated dispersal of aquatic alien invasive species provides insights not only into species invasions, but more generally into movement ecology, population ecology and biogeography.

Item ID: 40986
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-4642
Keywords: aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants, biological invasions, connectivity, freshwater ecosystems, long-distance dispersal, mobile link, spread, waterfowl
Funders: James S. McDonnell Foundation, South African National Research Foundation (NRF), South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and NRF of South Africa
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2015 02:12
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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