invasive species

The International Vertebrate Pet Trade Network and Insights from US Imports of Exotic Pets

The international trade in exotic vertebrate pets provides key social and economic benefits but also drives associated ecological, ethical, and human health impacts. Here, we represent and review the structure of the pet trade as a network composed of different market actors (nodes) and trade flows (links). As a case study of how data-informed networks can realize this goal, we quantified spatial and temporal patterns in pets imported to the United States. Our framework and case study illustrate how network approaches can help to inform and manage the effects of the growing demand for exotic pets.

Managing propagule pressure to prevent invasive species establishments: propagule size, number, and risk–release curve

Keeping propagule pressure low can reduce the probability a non-native species will establish in a new location. Here we develop a mathematical framework that can determine the required reduction in levels for propagule size and number (representative of management actions) to maintain a target establishment probability. Our tool can serve to guide the development of new invasive species management plans in a transparent and quantitative manner. Together with information on the costs associated with approaches to reducing propagule pressure, our tool can be used to identify the most cost‐effective approach to prevent invasive species establishments.

A guide to using the Internet to monitor and quantify the wildlife trade

The internet is a vast source of wildlife trade data. Here, we present an accessible guide for Internet‐based wildlife trade surveillance, which uses a repeatable and systematic method to automate data collection from relevant websites. Our guide is adaptable to the multitude of trade‐based contexts including different focal taxa or derived parts, and locations of interest.

Response to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s ‘Import risk review for psittacine birds from all countries’

We provide comments to The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on their ‘Import risk review for psittacine birds from all countries’ draft report. Due to serious key omissions, we do not support the import of psittacine birds based on the evidence provided in the risk review. The report does not provide sufficient transparency, nor evidence-based assessments of all benefits, risks, or associated costs, of allowing the import of psittacine birds. If the Department wishes to pursue this assessment, then future risk reviews must include the associated costs of facilitating new invasive species, and provide justification on the broader societal benefits of allowing import of psittacine birds. It is our professional scientific opinion that the benefits of importing psittacine birds are outweighed by the significant damages caused by the potential introduction of new invasive species.

Australia’s wish list of exotic pets: biosecurity and conservation implications of desired alien and illegal pet species

The live pet trade is a major pathways for invasive species. Australia imposes tough regulations against the trade of non-native animals as pets. However, there exists an illegal trade of these animals in Australia that threatens biosecurity. Here, we used government records of enquiries from the general public to assess the characteristics of species that are likely desired as pets. We found that desired species are more likely to invasive species elsewhere or at risk of extinction due to trade. Our findings suggest that in absence of strict laws, an unregulated pet trade would threaten Australian biosecurity and global conservation efforts.

When pets become pests: the role of the exotic pet trade in producing invasive vertebrate animals

The exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry involving thousands of animal species. Research has historically focused only the conservation and disease risks, however the risk of pets becoming invasive species has been overlooked. We show this trade is now the leading contributor of non-native establishments and invasions worldwide among vertebrates. We highlight areas of future research/policy changes needed to avoid more invasive pets in the future.

Pet problems: Biological and economic factors that influence the release of alien reptiles and amphibians by pet owners

The trade of non-native animals as pets the main pathway for new invasive species if they become released into the wild. Here, we examined the trade in non-native reptiles and amphibians as pets in the United States. We found c. 1,700 species traded in the past two decades of which 126 species have been recorded as released in the wild. Using machine learning models, we show that larger-bodied, longer-lived species, who sold for cheaper prices were more likely to have been released. We propose policies and education focused on species with these characteristics in order to curb the impacts of new invasive species that originated as pets.