Problem Definition-Baseline

On 20 November 2006 the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee (BDAC), whose role it was to advise the then Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, held a one day workshop in Canberra on climate change and invasive species’ impacts on biodiversity. Eight talks were given, followed by a session of free discussion. Most attendees were experts from government departments, universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and cooperative research centres (CRCs).

This report examines the role of the ecosystem services in reducing the vulnerability of the people of the Pacific Islands to climate change. Specifically, it describes the decision-making frameworks and the current state of knowledge of specific ecosystem-service/development relationships that are relevant to EbA.

Invasive alien species (IAS) are animals, plants or other organisms that are introduced into places outside their natural range, negatively impacting native biodiveristy, ecosystem services or human well-being. IAS are one of the biggest causes of biodiversity loss and species extinctions and are also a global threat to food security and livelihoods. IAS are compounded by climate change. Climate change facilitates the spread and establishement of many alien species and creates new opportunities for them to become invasive.

Minimizing the impact of invasive alien species (IAS) on islands and elsewhere requires researchers to provide cogent information on the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of IAS to the public and policy makers. Unfortunately, this information has not been readily available owing to a paucity of scientific research and the failure of the scientific community to make their findings readily available to decision makers.

Quantifying the environmental damage and loss of biodiversity due to alien species invasions worldwide is complicated by the fact that only some 1.5 million of the estimated 10 million species on earth have been identified and described. The total numbers of introduced species in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India, and Brazil range about 2000 to 50,000 species

Islands house a majority of the world’s biodiversity and are thus critical for biodiversity conservation. Seabird nesting colonies provide nutrients that are integral to maintain island biodiversity and ecosystem function. Invasive rats destroy seabird colonies and thus the island ecosystems that depend on seabird-derived nutrients. After rat eradication, it is unclear how long ecosystem recovery may take, although some speculate on the order of centuries. I looked at ecosystem recovery along a chronosequence of islands that had 12–22 years to recover following rat eradication.

The black rat, roof rat, or ship rat (Rattus rattus L.) is among the most widespread invasive vertebrates on islands and continents, and it is nearly ubiquitous on Pacific islands from the equatorial tropics to approximately 55 degrees latitude north and south. It survives well in human-dominated environments, natural areas, and islands where humans are not present. Rattus rattus is typically the most common invasive rodent in insular forests. Few vertebrates are more problematic to island biota and human livelihoods than R.

Seabirds drastically transform the environmental conditions of the sites where they establish their breeding colonies via soil, sediment, and water eutrophication (hereafter termed ornitheutrophication).

Insects have presented human society with some of its greatest development challenges by spreading diseases, consuming crops and damaging infrastructure. Despite the massive human and financial toll of invasive insects, cost estimates of their impacts remain sporadic, spatially incomplete and of questionable quality. Here we compile a comprehensive database of economic costs of invasive insects. Taking all reported goods and service estimates, invasive insects cost a minimum of US$70.0 billion per year globally, while associated health costs exceed US$6.9 billion per year.

Although research on human-mediated exchanges of species has substantially intensified during the last centuries, we know surprisingly little about temporal dynamics of alien species accumulations across regions and taxa. Using a novel database of 45,813 first records of 16,926 established alien species, we show that the annual rate of first records worldwide has increased during the last 200 years, with 37% of all first records reported most recently (1970–2014).