Alien species and public health impacts in Europe: a literature review

  • Impacts of alien species on human health have recently become a major issue in medical research and invasion ecology, but comprehensive assessments of this subject are largely lacking. Here, we provide a literature review of alien species with public health impacts in Europe based on a systematic search in the Thomson Reuters Web of Science. We detected 77 relevant articles, of which 21 were reviews and 56 were original research articles. The taxonomic focus was on vascular plants (n=31 articles) and dipterans (n=25 articles). The original research articles mainly covered the spread of the study species, while early invasion stages (introduction, establishment) as well as impact and management were less investigated. Alien species of health concern in Europe are mostly introduced as contaminants, and mostly originate from climatically similar regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In those cases (36% of all articles) when information on the trend in range and abundance was provided, this trend was mostly increasing. We detected little information on the severity of the impacts (two articles) and the interaction with climate change (three articles). In 15 original articles (28%) specific management measures were suggested, in only one article the socioeconomic costs were assessed. We conclude that European research on human health impacts of alien species is biased towards few species, and that several important aspects such as early invasion stages, severity of impact and its temporal trends, and the scale of the socioeconomic costs caused are poorly understood. Interdisciplinary projects bridging gaps between ecologists medical researchers, socioeconomists and public health authorities are required to link alien species to severity and trends of impacts, which is a crucial requisite for risk assessment and decision making.

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Author:Stefan Schindler, Bernadette Staska, Mildren Adam, Wolfgang Rabitsch, Franz Essl
Parent Title (English):NeoBiota
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2015
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/01/23
Tag:Aedes; Ambrosia; climate change; human health; management; vector
Page Number:23
First Page:1
Last Page:23
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:NeoBiota / NeoBiota 27
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0