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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24733. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024733. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Does global warming increase establishment rates of invasive alien species? A centurial time series analysis.

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  • 1CAS Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.



The establishment rate of invasive alien insect species has been increasing worldwide during the past century. This trend has been widely attributed to increased rates of international trade and associated species introductions, but rarely linked to environmental change. To better understand and manage the bioinvasion process, it is crucial to understand the relationship between global warming and establishment rate of invasive alien species, especially for poikilothermic invaders such as insects.


We present data that demonstrate a significant positive relationship between the change in average annual surface air temperature and the establishment rate of invasive alien insects in mainland China during 1900-2005. This relationship was modeled by regression analysis, and indicated that a 1 °C increase in average annual surface temperature in mainland China was associated with an increase in the establishment rate of invasive alien insects of about 0.5 species year⁻¹. The relationship between rising surface air temperature and increasing establishment rate remained significant even after accounting for increases in international trade during the period 1950-2005. Moreover, similar relationships were detected using additional data from the United Kingdom and the contiguous United States.


These findings suggest that the perceived increase in establishments of invasive alien insects can be explained only in part by an increase in introduction rate or propagule pressure. Besides increasing propagule pressure, global warming is another driver that could favor worldwide bioinvasions. Our study highlights the need to consider global warming when designing strategies and policies to deal with bioinvasions.

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