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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00178

Biological invasions in conservation planning: A global systematic review

  • 1Institute of Marine Biology, University of Montenegro, Montenegro
  • 2Institut für Paläontologie, Fakultät für Geowissenschaften, Geographie und Astronomie, Universität Wien, Austria
  • 3Department of Ecology, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 4USR3278 Centre de recherche insulaire et observatoire de l'environnement (CRIOBE), France
  • 5Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM), Spain
  • 6Abteilung für Naturschutzbiologie, Vegetationsökologie und Landschaftsökologie, Department für Botanik und Biodiversitätsforschung, Universität Wien, Austria
  • 7Department of Marine Sciences, University of the Aegean, Greece
  • 8Non Profit Non-Governmental Organisation for the Protection of the Aquatic Ecosystems, Greece
  • 9Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre (ENALIA), Cyprus
  • 10ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED), Australia
  • 11NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub, Centre for Biodiversity &Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • 12Research Centre of the West Fjords, University of Iceland, Iceland
  • 13Department of Marine Biology and Ecology, Institute Of Oceanology (BAS), Bulgaria
  • 14Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Austria
  • 15Scientific Institute, Mohamed V University, Morocco
  • 16Department of Marine Biology, National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR), Israel
  • 17Department of Marine Biology, Charney School of Marine Science, University of Haifa, Israel
  • 18Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli studi di Firenze, Italy
  • 19Istituto per l'ambiente marino costiero (IAMC), Italy

Biological invasions threaten biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, requiring substantial conservation and management efforts. To examine how the conservation planning literature addresses biological invasions and if planning in the marine environment could benefit from experiences in the freshwater and terrestrial systems, we conducted a global systematic review. Out of 1149 scientific articles mentioning both ‘conservation planning’ and ‘alien’ or any of its alternative terms, 70 articles met our selection criteria. Most of the studies were related to the terrestrial environment, while only 10% focused on the marine one. The main conservation targets were species (mostly vertebrates) rather than habitats or ecosystems. Apart from being mentioned, alien species were considered of concern for conservation in only 46% of the cases, while mitigation measures were proposed in only 13% of the cases. The vast majority of the studies (73%) ignored alien species in conservation planning even if their negative impacts were recognized. In 20% of the studies, highly invaded areas were avoided in the planning, while in 6% of the cases such areas were prioritized for conservation. In the latter case, two opposing approaches led to the selection of invaded areas: either alien and native biodiversity were treated equally in setting conservation targets, i.e. alien species were also considered as ecological features requiring protection, or more commonly invaded sites were prioritized for the implementation of management actions to control or eradicate invasive alien species. When the ‘avoid’ approach was followed, in most of the cases highly impacted areas were either excluded or invasive alien species were included in the estimation of a cost function to be minimized. Most of the studies that followed a ‘protect’ or ‘avoid’ approach dealt with terrestrial or freshwater features but in most cases the followed approach could be transferred to the marine environment. Gaps and needs for further research are discussed and we propose an 11-step framework to account for biological invasions into the systematic conservation planning design.

Keywords: Invasive Alien Species, Management actions, mitigation, Systematic Conservation Planning, non-indigenous species

Received: 18 Mar 2018; Accepted: 04 May 2018.

Edited by:

Agnese Marchini, University of Pavia, Italy

Reviewed by:

José Lino V. Costa, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Rebecca L. Morris, University of Melbourne, Australia  

Copyright: © 2018 Mačić, Albano, Almpanidou, Claudet, Corrales, Essl, Evagelopoulos, Giovos, Jimenez, Kark, Marković, Mazaris, Ólafsdóttir, Panayotova, Petović, Rabitsch, Ramdani, Rilov, Tricarico, Vega Fernández, Sini, Trygonis and Katsanevakis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Vesna Mačić, Institute of Marine Biology, University of Montenegro, Kotor, Montenegro,