Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where will the next biological invasion strike?

It is well documented that biological invasions has serious socio-economic implications, but that economic development in itself partially explains biological invasions is less well described.

A new study in China has found a correlation between more indirect factors such as economic developments and biological invasion. Here's the abstract:

Increasing levels of global trade and intercontinental travel have been cited as the major causes of biological invasion. However, indirect factors such as economic development that affect the intensity of invasion have not been quantitatively explored. Herein, using principal factor analysis, we investigated the relationship between biological invasion and economic development together with climatic information for China from the 1970s to present. We demonstrate that the increase in biological invasion is coincident with the rapid economic development that has occurred in China over the past three decades. The results indicate that the geographic prevalence of invasive species varies substantially on the provincial scale, but can be surprisingly well predicted using the combination of economic development (R2 = 0.378) and climatic factors (R2 = 0.347). Economic factors are proven to be at least equal to if not more determinant of the occurrence of invasive species than climatic factors. International travel and trade are shown to have played a less significant role in accounting for the intensity of biological invasion in China. Our results demonstrate that more attention should be paid to economic factors to improve the understanding, prediction and management of biological invasions.

Next time, do not only look at biology and climate, but include economic development data as well when predicting biological invasions.

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