Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Ecological impacts of non-native species

December 31, 2012

Non-native species are considered one of the greatest threats to freshwater biodiversity worldwide (Drake et al. 1989; Allen and Flecker 1993; Dudgeon et al. 2005). Some of the first hypotheses proposed to explain global patterns of amphibian declines included the effects of non-native species (Barinaga 1990; Blaustein and Wake 1990; Wake and Morowitz 1991). Evidence for the impact of non-native species on amphibians stems (1) from correlative research that relates the distribution or abundance of a species to that of a putative non-native species, and (2) from experimental tests of the effects of a non-native species on survival, growth, development or behaviour of a target species (Kats and Ferrer 2003). Over the past two decades, research on the effects of non-native species on amphibians has mostly focused on introduced aquatic predators, particularly fish. Recent research has shifted to more complex ecological relationships such as influences of sub-lethal stressors (e.g. contaminants) on the effects of non-native species (Linder et al. 2003; Sih et al. 2004), non-native species as vectors of disease (Daszak et al. 2004; Garner et al. 2006), hybridization between non-natives and native congeners (Riley et al. 2003; Storfer et al. 2004), and the alteration of food-webs by non-native species (Nystrom et al. 2001). Other research has examined the interaction of non-native species in terms of facilitation (i.e. one non-native enabling another to become established or spread) or the synergistic effects of multiple non-native species on native amphibians, the so-called invasional meltdown hypothesis (Simerloff and Von Holle 1999). Although there is evidence that some non-native species may interact (Ricciardi 2001), there has yet to be convincing evidence that such interactions have led to an accelerated increase in the number of non-native species and cumulative impacts are still uncertain (Simberloff 2006). Applied research on the control, eradication, and management of non-native species has only just begun but some promising results have already emerged (see below), giving hope to a very difficult conservation issue. This chapter provides an overview of the role of non-native species in amphibian declines and summarizes the current state of knowledge of non-native species that are known, or considered to be, a threat to amphibian species and populations. The biological and socio-economic issues of non-native species control are examined and brief case studies of successful eradication programmes are provided.

Publication Year 2012
Title Ecological impacts of non-native species
Authors David S. Pilliod, R.A. Griffiths, S.L. Kuzmin
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70040200
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center