Linking climate change and species invasion: an illustration using insect herbivores


Present address: Nicola L Ings, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK, tel. +44 20 7882 5555 ext. 3718, fax +44 20 89830973, e-mail:


Climate change and invasive species are two of the most important ecological issues facing the world today. Yet, to date these two factors have largely been viewed independently. In order to prevent large-scale economic and environmental damage and as a first step towards predicting and preventing invasions, it is important to understand the factors affecting invasions. Here, we focus on insect herbivores and link the climate change and invasive research fields. We illustrate using existing published research that life history traits can be useful indicators of future invasive potential. However, climate change will also affect propagule pressure and the communities into which invaders will arrive. With the aid of a meta-analysis we show that climate-induced community changes are likely to increase niche-availability in the future, further exacerbating the problem of invasive species. It is timely and important that further research linking these two important ecological threats is undertaken.