Biological invasions are one of the main components of global change. Through mechanisms such as predation, hybridization or competition, invasive species are a major cause of biodiversity loss, alteration of ecosystems, and biotic homogenization. In addition, they have a strong impact on the health and economy of human societies. At the same time, invasive species provide unique opportunities to understand major evolutionary and ecological processes due to their ability to adapt to new environments and successfully compete with native species. 

Not all exotic species arriving to a region become invasive. Only a small fraction of species manage to establish themselves successfully and, of these, only a few are able to increase in numbers and become invasive. Similarly, not all invasive species have an impact on biodiversity, human health or the economy. However, once established, the control or eradication of the species is difficult and the associated economic costs can be huge. For these reasons it is important to emphasise prevention and rapid response mechanisms. In addition to monitoring and regulating routes of entry of invasive species, prevention requires understanding what makes a species a good invader or a region particularly susceptible to invasion.

The main lines of work and experience of CREAF in this field include:

  • Database on exotic species: In Catalonia, we collect information on invasive species' biological and ecological characteristics, status of the invasion, the route of introduction, control techniques, and geographical distributions. 
  • Analysis of the factors associated with the success of the invasion: We study the characteristics that determine a high invasive capacity of species and the factors associated with the vulnerability of the territory to invasions by plants and animals. We also study the influence of humans throughout the different stages of the invasion process.
  • Analysis of risk of invasion by certain species: We address this risk by developing and applying invasive species risk prevention protocols.
  • Predictive methods and models using citizen science: We combine citizen data with data from official and authoritative sources such as agencies for pest monitoring and control and universities in order to create predictive models of invasive species expansions (in particular, the tiger mosquito).   

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