Earlier this year a CEH-led invasive alien species horizon scanning exercise identified the quagga mussel as the top ranking threat to the UK’s biodiversity. The study, published in Global Change Biology, concluded that the mussel poses a high risk because it is an ecosystem engineer with the potential to disrupt the ecological function of freshwater environments.
The horizon scanning exercise was carried out by scientists from more than 20 research institutes and universities with expertise on invasive alien species. It aimed to collate a list of invasive alien species not yet established within Britain but anticipated to arrive, establish and threaten biodiversity within five years.
|Invasive mussels clogging a propeller. As well as altering ecosystems, the quagga mussel|
can block pipes, smother boat hulls and other structures,
Photo: Government of Alberta (CC-BY-NC-ND)
Other high risk species
In addition to the quagga mussel the exercise identified a further 29 high risk species, including the Sacred ibis, the Brush clawed shore crab, the Asian hornet, and the American water-milfoil. Since the paper was published, the first UK record of the non-native Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus), which was included in the top 10 potential threats, has been received.
How to record sightings
An alert system operates within the UK for invasive species. The latest species alerts can be found here. If you see the quagga mussel or any other invasive alien species of concern, please report your sighting via iRecord: http://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/enter-non-native-records
The horizon scanning exercise was published in the scientific journal Global Change Biology. The paper is open access.
Full paper reference: Helen E. Roy, Jodey Peyton, David C. Aldridge, Tristan Bantock, Tim M. Blackburn, Robert Britton, Paul Clark, Elizabeth Cook, Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Trevor Dines, Michael Dobson, François Edwards, Colin Harrower, Martin C. Harvey, Dan Minchin, David G. Noble, Dave Parrott, Michael J.O. Pocock, Chris D. Preston, Sugoto Roy, Andrew Salisbury, Karsten Schönrogge, Jack Sewell, Richard H. Shaw , Paul Stebbing, Alan J. A. Stewart, Kevin J. Walker (2014) Horizon-scanning for invasive alien species with the potential to threaten biodiversity in Great Britain. Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12603 (open access)
CEH news story: Top 30 high risk invasive alien species with potential to threaten British biodiversity identified by scientists