Aim Species introduced to an area outside of their native range are often thought to have higher impact in this new area. We examined whether this is really the case in mammals and birds and to what extent. In particular, we explored how impacts of alien species vary in relationship to invader identity and type of impact.
Methods We conducted a thorough review of the literature to compare the impact of alien European mammals and birds in their native and invaded ranges. Based on a series of environmental and economic impact scores, we ordered species along a continuum from weak invaders, which have lower impact in the invaded range, to strong invaders, which have higher impact in the invaded range.
Results We found that nearly 80% of the mammals are strong invaders, but only half of the birds. Members of these two classes also affect their communities in different ways; birds more often have an impact via hybridization, whereas mammals have stronger impacts via herbivory, transmission of diseases to wildlife and their effects on agriculture, livestock and forestry.
Main conclusions Generally, mammals and birds have different impacts when invading new regions. Although there are some bird species that are strong invaders, these remain the exception among birds, whereas most mammals increase their impact in the invaded range. This study provides a deeper insight into patterns of impact in the invaded range.