Charisma: the advantage of invasive species

Native North American grey squirrel, introduced to Italy.   © Gérard Brémond

Native North American grey squirrel, introduced to Italy. © Gérard Brémond

Invasive species are the second largest cause of biodiversity loss. Transferred to new environments by human activity, they become competitors or predators of local species, which are often unable to withstand the incursion. An international research team, involving two French laboratories 1 , have evidenced one factor yet to be fully addressed in the study and management of these invasions: species charisma. The popularity of a species, and its perception by society and the media, determines how it is introduced and what impact it has on its new surroundings. In Italy, for example, the arrival of the popular North American grey squirrel threatens the existence of the native red squirrel. The publication, which will appear in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (6 April 2020), recommends that scientists take charisma into account when studying and managing invasive species.


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