Antarctic invasion: non-native species movements in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctica

Justine D. Shaw (1), Melissa Houghton (2), John van den Hoff (3), Rachael Alderman (4), Dana Bergstrom (5)

1  Centre of Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland & Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Tas, 7050,  j.shaw6@uq.edu.au, @justine_d_shaw

2 Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Tas, 7050, Melissa.Houghton@aad.gov.au

3 Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Tas, 7050, John.Vandenhoff@aad.gov.au

4 Wildlife Management Branch, Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & Environment, 134 Macquarie St, Hobart, 7001, rachael.alderman@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

5 Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Tas, 7050, Dana.Bergstrom@aad.gov.au

Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands have high conservation value, with dense concentrations of biodiversity and some endemic species. These areas are protected having high conservation status, yet still they have been invaded by non-native species. Vertebrate pests such as cats, rabbit, rats and mice arrived over hundred years ago on most islands, brought intentionally or accidently by sealers. Vertebrate introductions are rare these days, yet non-native plants and invertebrates continue to be detected in Antarctic and on sub-Antarctic islands, despite increased biosecurity.

We examined the suite of invasive species that have established in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctica in historic and recent times. We quantified the pathways for non-native species introduction to the region, and the unintentional introduction of non-native invertebrates to the region over a 14 year period (2000-2013) by a national Antarctic program. We collected specimens and detected invertebrates at cargo packing facilities, on supply vessels (including ships and planes), in cargo en-route to research stations in eastern Antarctica and sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

We document the arrival and expansion of a non-native fly to Macquarie Island. From the first individual detected to their current widespread status, we explore pathways of introduction and pathways for future expansion and their potential impacts.

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