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Pathways and vectors for the introduction of non-indigenous invertebrate species to the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic region

Pathways and vectors for the introduction of non-indigenous invertebrate species to the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic region
Melissa Houghton

Authors

Melissa Houghton
Terrestrial Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division and School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Tasmania

Justine Shaw
Terrestrial Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division and Environmental Decision Group, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland

Peter McQuillan
School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Tasmania

Leslie Frost
Business Support Group, Australian Antarctic Division

Dana Bergstrom
Terrestrial Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division

Abstract

Non-native species pose a great threat to Antarctic biodiversity. Annex II of the Environmental Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty prohibits the intentional introduction of non-native species to Antarctica. A substantial amount of research has quantified propagule pressure of alien plants and their pathways of introduction to Antarctica. Scientists, tourists and their cargo are the major vectors of plant propagule introductions to Antarctica. However, little is known about the propagule pressure and pathways for non-native invertebrates to Antarctica. Despite Australia’s strict biosecurity protocols involving pesticide fumigation of cargo and ships, non-native invertebrates continue to be introduced to the Australian Antarctic and sub-Antarctic territories.

Here we have quantified the unintentional introduction of non-native invertebrates to Antarctica through collections made over the last 12 years during the Australian Antarctic program. We have identified 300 individuals, from 55 families, inadvertently transported via cargo and expeditioners. Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies), coleopteran (beetles), arachnids (spiders) and dipterans (flies) were the most common. We investigated pathways by examining where the invertebrates were detected. It was found that food and cargo packaging materials were most commonly contaminated.

Targeted trapping for invertebrates was also undertaken over 6 months utilising light and colour traps at wharf cargo facilities and on the Aurora Australis, yielding live invertebrates from both sites. We aim to examine the traits of different taxonomic groups, key species’ attributes and the establishment potential of commonly found species. Ultimately we aim to inform biosecurity protocols for people and cargo transport to Antarctica.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.