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B6. Pressure from invasive species

a. Freshwater invasive species

b. Marine (coastal) invasive species

c. Terrestrial invasive species

Type: Pressure Indicator

Introduction

Non-native species are those that have reached Great Britain by accidental human transport, deliberate human introduction, or which arrived by natural dispersal from a non-native population in Europe. Species that have arrived since 1500 are included within this indicator. Most non-native species are considered benign or positive, but some have a negative impact on native species through the spread of disease, competition for resources, or by direct consumption, parasitism or hybridisation; such species are termed invasive. Invasive non-native species have one or more of these negative impacts and a high capacity to spread to natural and semi-natural habitats. This indicator shows the change in number of invasive non-native species established across 10% or more of the land area of Great Britain, or along 10% or more of the extent of its coastline.

Key results

There are 3,224 non-native species in Great Britain, 2,010 of which are classified as established (reproducing in the wild). This indicator contains 193 non-native species that are considered to be exerting a negative impact on native biodiversity (46 freshwater species, 39 marine species and 108 terrestrial species). The majority (187) of these species are established; 6 (n1) are long-term residents but not known to breed in the wild.

Over the period 1960 to 2019, invasive non-native species have become more prevalent in the countryside. Since 1960, the number of these species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline has increased in the freshwater, marine (coastal) and terrestrial environments, thereby increasing the likely pressure on native biodiversity (Figure B6i).

Figure B6i. Number of invasive non-native species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline, 1960 to 2019.

Bar chart showing how the number of invasive non-native species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline has increased from 1960 to 2019. Freshwater invasive non-native species increased in the 3 decades from 1960-69 to 1980-89 but have since been more stable. Marine (coastal) invasive non-native species and terrestrial invasive non-native species have both increased in each decade between 1960-69 and 2010-2019.

Source: Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, British Trust for Ornithology, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Marine Biological Association, National Biodiversity Network.

Comparing the latest period (2010 to 2019) with the previous one (2000 to 2009), the number of invasive non-native species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline has increased in freshwater environments (from 12 to 13 species) marine (from 24 to 29 species) and terrestrial environments (from 57 to 61 species).

Assessment of change in the number of invasive non-native species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline

  Long term Short term Latest year
Freshwater invasive species

Deteriorating
1960–2019

Not assessed

Not assessed

Marine (coastal) invasive species

Deteriorating
1960–2019

Not assessed

Not assessed

Terrestrial invasive species

Deteriorating
1960–2019

Not assessed Not assessed

Note: Analysis of the underlying long-term trends is carried out by the data providers – see Assessing Indicators. Short-term trends and latest-year changes are not assessed.

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Relevance

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) identifies invasive non-native species as a major threat to biodiversity. Many non-native species do not threaten biodiversity, but invasive non-native species can spread disease (e.g. signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus), modify ecosystems (e.g. rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum), drastically reduce populations of native species (e.g. American mink, Mustela vison), or hybridise with native species (e.g. ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis).

Under the CBD, the United Kingdom has an international obligation to address the impacts of invasive non-native species. In 2008, the UK government published the Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain.

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Background

The indicator and background charts are based on species distribution data available through the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), supplemented by expert knowledge and in-house datasets of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK CEH), the Environment Agency (EA) and Marine Biological Association (MBA). Trends in the extent of invasive non-native species, as presented in Figure B6i and B6ii were derived through a two-stage process. The number of invasive non-native species included within the indicator was substantially expanded from the 49 species used in the indicator published in 2009 (Hill et al., 2009). An initial list was derived from the GB Non-native Species Information Portal (GB-NNSIP) (Roy et al., 2014) by selecting all non-native species within the database that are noted to have, or potentially have, a negative or strongly negative ecological effect, including all 49 species from the original indicator. This list was subsequently reviewed by experts, species for which there was a high degree of uncertainty with respect to negative impact were removed and new species were added as deemed appropriate. The revised list in 2014 comprised of 179 species, but has been subsequently amended in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020; now comprising of 193 species (see technical background document).

Invasive non-native species were categorised according to the extent of the land area or coastline of Great Britain in which they were found in the decades of 1960 to 1969, 1970 to 1979, 1980 to 1989, 1990 to 1999, 2000 to 2009 and 2010 to 2019 (see Table B6i). The categorisation was achieved by combining assessment of modelled distributions based on data available from the NBN with expert opinion and the use of additional datasets where available (for more details see the technical background document).

Table B6i. Invasion extent of non-native species

Definition

Interpretation

Extent

Not present in territory

Absent

0

Present in territory and either not established or with established populations that have not spread more than 10km from their source

Not or scarcely established

1

Established populations represent less than 10% of territory, with some having arrived from further than 10km from their source; or if more widespread then populations scattered and sparse

Established but still generally absent or at most occasional

2

Established populations present in 10% to 50% of the territory

Established and frequent in part of the territory

3

Established in more than 50% of the territory

Widespread

4

Figure B6ii shows the number of species in each decade in each extent category listed in Table B6i.

Figure B6ii. Changes in the extent of invasive non-native species in freshwater, marine (coastal), and terrestrial environments of Great Britain, 1960 to 2019.

Stacked bar chart showing how the extent (levels 1 to 4) of invasive non-native species in freshwater, marine (coastal), and terrestrial environments of Great Britain has changed from 1960 to 2019.

Notes:

Extent levels are defined as follows:

    1. Present in territory and either not established or with established populations that have not spread more than 10km from their source.
    2. Established populations represent less than 10% of territory, with some having arrived from further than 10km from their source; or if more widespread then population scattered and sparse.
    3. Established populations present in 10% to 50% of the territory.
    4. Established in more than 50% of the territory.

Source: Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, British Trust for Ornithology, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Marine Biological Association, National Biodiversity Network.

The indicator is compiled from those invasive non-native species established in or along 10% or more of Great Britain’s land area or coastline (i.e. extent categories 3 and 4). There are limitations to this approach:

  • The list of invasive non-native species has been derived through the rapid assessment of impacts based on expert opinion. A semi-quantitative approach is currently being developed to improve the certainty and reliability of the list.
  • The extent value is based on relatively broad categories. The extent of some species can increase multi-fold within a single category, for example, the number of invasive non-native species in 10% to 50% of the land area of Great Britain, which can reduce the sensitivity of the indicator.
  • The occurrence data obtained from the NBN may not be representative of the species distribution in each decade, especially for both the earlier and most recent time periods, because there is often a time lag before occurrence data appear on the NBN. Furthermore, the availability of occurrence data reflects the intensity of survey effort applied in a time period that has subsequently been submitted to the NBN. The attribution of extent categories has, however, been supplemented by expert opinion and in some cases by more complete datasets.

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Goals and Targets

Aichi Targets for which this is a primary indicator

Strategic Goal B. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use. 

Aichi Target 9 iconTarget 9: By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

Aichi Target for which this is a relevant indicator

None

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Reference Title
Defra Developing an indicator of the abundance, extent and impact of invasive non-native species (PDF, 382kb)
EC 6th Framework Programme  Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe (DAISIE)
EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation
National Biodiversity Network (NBN) NBN Atlas
UK Government GB Non-native Species Secretariat 
UK Government  The Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain

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References

Hill, M. O., Beckmann, B. C., Bishop, J. D. D., Fletcher, M. R., Lear, D. B., Marchant, J. H., Maskell, L. C., Noble, D. G., Rehfisch, M. M., Roy, H. E., Roy, S. & Sewell, J. (2009). Developing an indicator of the abundance, extent and impact of invasive non-native species. Final report. Defra.

Roy, H. E., Preston, C. D., Harrower, C. A., Rorke, S. L., Noble, D., Sewell, J., Walker, K., Marchant, J., Seeley, B., Bishop, J., Jukes, A., Musgrove, A. & Pearman, D. (2014). GB Non-native Species Information Portal: documenting the arrival of non-native species in Britain. Biological Invasions, 16(12), 2495–2505.

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Downloads

Download the Datasheet and Technical background document from JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Last updated: October 2020

Latest data available: 2019

 

This content is available on request as a pdf in non-accessible format. If you wish for a copy please go to the enquiries page.

 

(n1) The 6 long-term resident species included the indicator are 2 species of terrapin (Emys orbicularis and Trachemys scripta) and 4 freshwater fish (Ameiurus melas, Leuciscus idus, Salvelinus fontinalis and Oncorhynchus gorbuschas).

Categories:

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020

Published: .

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