Invasive alien insects represent a clear but variable threat to biodiversity

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Invasive alien insects are an important yet understudied component of the general threat that biological invasions pose to biodiversity. We quantified the breadth and level of this threat by performing environmental impact assessments using a modified version of the Environmental Impact Assessment for Alien Taxa (EICAT) framework. This represents the largest effort to date on quantify the environmental impacts of invasive alien insects. Using a relatively large and taxonomically representative set of insect species that have established non-native populations around the globe, we tested hypotheses on: (1) socioeconomic and (2) taxonomic biases, (3) relationship between range size and impact severity and (4) island susceptibility. Socioeconomic pests had marginally more environmental impact information than non-pests and, as expected, impact information was geographically and taxonomically skewed. Species with larger introduced ranges were more likely, on average, to have the most severe local environmental impacts (i.e. a global maximum impact severity of ‘Major’). The island susceptibility hypothesis found no support, and both island and mainland systems experience similar numbers of high severity impacts. These results demonstrate the high variability, both within and across species, in the ways and extents to which invasive insects impact biodiversity, even within the highest profile invaders. However, the environmental impact knowledge base requires greater taxonomic and geographic coverage, so that hypotheses about invasion impact can be developed towards identifying generalities in the biogeography of invasion impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100065
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Research in Insect Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental impacts
  • Impact assessment
  • Invasive alien species
  • Knowledge shortfalls

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