Research Biases Create Overrepresented “Poster Children” of Marine Invasion Ecology

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Watkins, H. V., Yan, H. F., Dunic, J. C., & Côté, I. M. (2021). Research biases create overrepresented “poster children” of marine invasion ecology. Conservation Letters, n/a(n/a), e12802.

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DOI: 10.1111/conl.12802
Biological invasions
Biotic introductions
Introduced marine animals
Invasion ecology
Systematic review
Taxonomic bias

Nonnative marine species are increasingly recognized as a threat to the world's oceans, yet are poorly understood relative to their terrestrial and freshwater counterparts. Here, we conducted a systematic review of 2,203 research articles on nonnative marine animals to determine whether the current literature reflects the known diversity of marine invaders, how much we know about these species, and how frequently their impacts are measured. We found that only 39% of nonnative animals listed in the World Register of Introduced Marine Species appeared in the peer-reviewed English literature. Of those, fewer than half were the subject of more than one study. There is currently little focus on the consequences of marine introductions: only 9.9% of studies quantified the impact of nonnative species. Finally, our knowledge of nonnative marine species is heavily limited by strong taxonomic biases consistent across all phyla, resulting in one or two disproportionately well-studied representatives for each phylum, which we refer to as the “poster children” of invasion. These gaps in the literature make it difficult to effectively triage the most detrimental invasive species for management and illustrate the challenges in achieving the global biodiversity goals of preventing and managing the introduction and establishment of invasive species

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