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Hunting as a source of alien species: a European review

AuthorsCarpio, Antonio J.; Guerrero-Casado, José; Barasona, José A. ; Tortosa, Francisco S.; Vicente, Joaquín ; Hillström, Lars; Delibes-Mateos, Miguel
KeywordsAlien species
Biological invasions
Game species
Invasion pathways
Issue DateApr-2017
CitationBiological Invasions 19(4): 1197–1211 (2017)
AbstractHunting activities are responsible for the translocation and restocking of millions of animals throughout Europe, including the introduction of alien species. In a context of the growing use of game translocations and of increasing concern about the impact of biological invasions, our goal is to review the role of alien species introduced primarily for hunting purposes on the European scale. In particular, we explore: (1) the relative importance of game species in the context of alien species introductions; (2) the temporal evolution of the number of species introduced for hunting purposes; (3) the contribution of different taxa; (4) the pattern of introduced game species composition across countries (in terms of similarity), and (5) the underlying human demographic factors driving the diversity of introduced game species per country. According to our results, 24.3% of the mammals and 30.2% of the birds introduced into Europe during the last century were released primarily for hunting purposes, in total, 93 species (63 birds and 36 mammals), the most important taxa being Artiodactyls, Anseriformes and Galliformes. The species composition differed among countries, with a higher diversity of introduced game species in larger countries and in those with a higher human population density and proportion of hunters. This review stresses that hunting was a significant pathway for the introduction of invasive species into Europe in the last century. Since some of the game species introduced have had severe environmental impacts on many European regions, and introductions of non-native game species are still occurring, it is essential to improve regulations and increase public awareness regarding invasive game animals. This will help to preserve biodiversity and improve the sustainability of current hunting schemes in increasingly managed European ecosystems.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1313-0
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