A taxonomically and geographically constrained information base limits non-native reptile and amphibian risk assessment : a systematic review

Van Wilgen, Nicola J. ; Gillespie, Micaela S. ; Richardson, David M. ; Measey, John (2018-11-08)

CITATION: Van Wilgen, N. J., et al. 2018. A taxonomically and geographically constrained information base limits non-native reptile and amphibian risk assessment : a systematic review. PeerJ, 6:e5850, doi:10.7717/peerj.5850.

The original publication is available at https://peerj.com

Article

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: For many taxa, new records of non-native introductions globally occur at a near exponential rate. We undertook a systematic review of peer-reviewed publications on non-native herpetofauna, to assess the information base available for assessing risks of future invasions, resulting in 836 relevant papers. The taxonomic and geographic scope of the literature was also compared to a published database of all known invasions globally. We found 1,116 species of herpetofauna, 95% of which were present in fewer than 12 studies. Nearly all literature on the invasion ecology of herpetofauna has appeared since 2000, with a strong focus on frogs (58%), particularly cane toads (Rhinella marina) and their impacts in Australia. While fewer papers have been published on turtles and snakes, proportionately more species from both these groups have been studied than for frogs. Within each herpetofaunal group, there are a handful of well-studied species: R. marina, Lithobates catesbeianus, Xenopus laevis, Trachemys scripta, Boiga irregularis and Anolis sagrei. Most research (416 papers; 50%) has addressed impacts, with far fewer studies on aspects like trade (2%). Besides Australia (213 studies), most countries have little location-specific peer-reviewed literature on non-native herpetofauna (on average 1.1 papers per established species). Other exceptions were Guam, the UK, China, California and France, but even their publication coverage across established species was not even. New methods for assessing and prioritizing invasive species such as the Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa provide useful frameworks for risk assessment, but require robust species-level studies. Global initiatives, similar to the Global Amphibian Assessment, using the species and taxonomic groups identified here, are needed to derive the level of information across broad geographic ranges required to apply these frameworks. Expansive studies on model species can be used to indicate productive research foci for understudied taxa.

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