The researchers found that the circulating species have distinct life histories with extended reproductive cycles

Effects of life history traits on trade, trade frequency and introduction. Post-hoc distributions of fixed effect estimates from models based on US live wildlife trade data, of the effects of life history traits on the probability of trade (traded species versus non-traded species) and trade frequency (number of shipments per species) from the hurdle and introduction (introduced) versus species models non-introduced, within circulating species only) from experimental models across mammals (pink), reptiles (blue), and amphibians (gold). Silhouettes were obtained from phylopic.org under public domain licenses. credit: Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-35765-6

A new study by researchers from Durham University, UK, Queen’s University Belfast, UK, University of Extremadura, Spain, and Swansea University, UK, reveals that vertebrate species involved in the live wildlife trade have distinct life history traits and biological characteristics that determine recurrence. and timing of reproduction.

Researchers have discovered that traded species produce large numbers of offspring over long reproductive periods, an unusual profile that is potentially financially advantageous for trade involving captive breeding such as pets, food, and the fur/skin trade.

Traded species that were also introduced to non-native areas have a more extreme version of the same life history profile, suggesting that species most likely to become problematic invaders are at increased risk of trade and release.

The study indicates that humans prefer species with higher reproductive output for trade and release, species that are likely to become problematic invaders in the future.

The researchers suggest that life history traits may be useful for predicting future invasions.

The full study results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Reflecting on the findings of the study, first author Dr Sally Street from Durham University said, “Invasive species can cause huge ecological problems, but once established they are difficult to manage. This means that it is really important to try to identify the characteristics that increase the risk of species passing through.” The early stages of the invasion, transmission and introduction pathway, which are relatively not well studied.”

“We show that not only are life history traits useful for identifying species at risk of trade, introduction and eventual invasion, but unfortunately human activities seem to favor trade in species that are more likely to succeed if released. We hope that our study will contribute to the management and mitigation of future invasions and damage that it could cause to biodiversity.”

Study co-author Dr Isabella Cappellini of Queen’s University Belfast said, “The rate of species traded in commerce is increasing rapidly worldwide; some of these species are introduced accidentally or deliberately and may become invaders causing problems damaging local ecosystems.” Managing alien invasive species, and preventing the release of potentially invasive species may help protect local biodiversity.”

“To help achieve this, in our study we also identified certain vertebrate species that are at risk of becoming future invaders if traded and recommended that these species be monitored and banned from trade.”

The researchers studied trade data from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They analyzed the role of life history traits in the possibility that mammals, reptiles and amphibians were involved in the wildlife trade and that these species were released outside their native ranges.

Invasive species can cause huge environmental problems and financial costs. Once established, invasive populations can be difficult or impossible to manage.

Therefore, understanding the early stages of an invasion and predicting future invasions is critical to minimizing this damage.

more information:
Sally E Street et al., Human activities favor the copious life history of both introduced and introduced vertebrates, Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-35765-6

Provided by Durham University

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