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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: October 2011

15 - Invasive alien species and islands

Summary

Invasive alien species are considered to be a major contributor to the high extinction rates of species native to islands compared with other habitats (Sherley et al., 2000). In this respect, the effect of invasive alien species is second only to the destruction or modification of natural environments caused by humans. Island ecosystems, especially on small or remote islands, seem to be especially vulnerable to alien plant species invasions with negative impacts on their native floras. Numerous reasons for this phenomenon have been put forward in the literature. They include assessments of ‘unbalanced island floras’ or different aspects of lower competitiveness of ‘island-born’ species in comparison to the non-native ‘newcomers’ (Denslow, 2003) as well as correlations with abiotic factors such as island size, number of native species, rate of disturbance and distance to continental areas (Barney & Whitlow, 2008).

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