Global ecological impacts of marine exotic species

by Andrea Anton, Nathan R. Geraldi, Catherine E. Lovelock, Eugenia T. Apostolaki, Scott Bennet, Carlos M. Duarte,
Research article Year: 2019 ISSN: 2397-334X DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0851-0


Anton, A., Geraldi, N. R., Lovelock, C. E., Apostolaki, E. T., Bennett, S., Cebrian, J., ... & Duarte, C. M. (2019). Global ecological impacts of marine exotic species. Nature Ecology & Evolution3(5), 787-800.


Exotic species are a growing global ecological threat; however, their overall effects are insufficiently understood. While some exotic species are implicated in many species extinctions, others can provide benefits to the recipient communities. Here, we performed a meta-analysis to quantify and synthesize the ecological effects of 76 exotic marine species (about 6% of the listed exotics) on ten variables in marine communities. These species caused an overall significant, but modest in magnitude (as indicated by a mean effect size of g < 0.2), decrease in ecological variables. Marine primary producers and predators were the most disruptive trophic groups of the exotic species. Approximately 10% (that is, 2 out of 19) of the exotic species assessed in at least three independent studies had significant impacts on native species. Separating the innocuous from the disruptive exotic species provides a basis for triage efforts to control the marine exotic species that have the most impact, thereby helping to meet Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.