Introduced species in a tidal ecosystem of mud and sand: Curse or blessing?

Karsten Reise*, Christian Buschbaum, Dagmar Lackschewitz, David W. Thieltges, Andreas M. Waser, K. Mathias Wegner

*Corresponding author for this work

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For about a century, biodiversity in the tidal Wadden Sea (North Sea, European Atlantic) has increased by more than one hundred introduced species from overseas. Most originate from warmer waters and could facilitate the transformation of this coastal ecosystem to comply with climate warming. Some introduced species promote sediment stabilization and mud accretion. This could help tidal flats to keep up with sea level rise. Although some introduced species also entail negative effects, introductions have diversified lower food web levels, and may benefit foraging birds. So far, no resident populations have gone extinct because an introduced species had established. Rather than degrading the ecosystem, the establishment of introduced species seems to have raised the capacity to follow environmental change. We support increasing efforts against introductions to avoid risk. However, once species are integrated, the common condemnation attitude against “non-natives� or “aliens� ought to be reconsidered for tidal ecosystems of low biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages24
JournalMarine Biodiversity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10-Jan-2023

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