Biological invasions are a profound contribution to human induced environmental change. Preventing the incursion of non-native species to Australia is by far the most cost-effective way to reduce future pest damage.
Assoc. Prof. Phill Cassey from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide and colleagues Dr Wendy Henderson and Dr Mary Bomford (Invasive Animals CRC) compiled national data on border incursions and pre-border interceptions (predominantly seizures from private keeping and illegal imports) of exotic terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians). The authors identified species with a high risk of establishing wild populations.
The majority of species detected were reported from illegal keeping. Individual species risk assessments revealed that reptile species were more likely to be of greater risk for future establishment than other terrestrial vertebrates. During the preceding decade, the number of novel exotic vertebrate species detected ‘at large’ in Australia has significantly increased.
The authors strongly recommend a nationally coordinated framework for data collection, and data sharing among Australian agencies involved in Biosecurity reporting. Improved reporting of incursions and interceptions, collaborative inter-agency communication, and targeted action against high-risk species are crucial to prevent new pests establishing.
The paper has been published in the CSIRO journal Wildlife Research and has been published early online. Henderson, W., Bomford, M., and Cassey, P. (2011) Managing the risk of exotic vertebrate incursions in Australia. Wildlife Research, doi: 10.1071/WR11089.
A pdf version of the paper is available to download here.