Drivers of invasive species success in a warming, below-ground world

Charlene Janion-Scheepers (1) and Steven L. Chown (2)

(1) Monash University, School of Biological Sciences, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia, Charlene.janionscheepers@monash.edu, @cjanion
(2) Monash University, School of Biological Sciences, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia, steven.chown@monash.edu, @StevenChown1

Several studies have predicted that climate change will exacerbate the rates and impacts of biological invasions, yet only a handful of empirical assessments of these predictions have been made for terrestrial species. The Polar Regions have experienced a major increase in both these threats to biodiversity, especially in the terrestrial system. Here we use a terrestrial group that occurs on all continents, Collembola (springtails), to investigate the potential drivers underlying the spread and success of invasive springtails. We examine biological and physiological characteristics that play a role in the establishment and spread of invasive species in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. We illustrate, using examples from our work on sub-Antarctic islands such as Marion Island and South Georgia, that invasive species can tolerate a broader range of environmental conditions and have greater phenotypic plasticity than indigenous species. The findings suggest that invasive species could outperform indigenous ones as climates continue to change, although this needs further experimental verification. Understanding the drivers of differential success among indigenous and invasive species is key to forecasting changing impacts across the region, especially in the face of ongoing climate change and growing human traffic at both poles.

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