Identifying potential emerging invasive non-native species from the freshwater pet trade.

Published online
03 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Dickey, J. W. E. & Liu ChunLong & Briski, E. & Wolter, C. & Moesch, S. & Jeschke, J. M.
Contact email(s) &

Publication language


enThis link goes to a English sectiondeThis link goes to a Deutsche section An increasingly globalised world has facilitated the movement of non-native species (NNS) via the poorly regulated international pet trade. While focus is increasingly being placed on preventative action to combat invasive NNS-often cheaper and less difficult than the management of established populations-successful prevention requires controlling potential pathways and obtaining baseline knowledge of species' availability. Here we performed an in-depth analysis of the freshwater pet trade as one major vector of NNS, compiling its species inventory and deriving threats of NNS release and establishment in the wild. With Germany as our study region, we surveyed pet stores, websites and the country's largest online classified portal, eBay Kleinanzeigen, recording the taxa encountered. For each species, we determined the likelihood of release based on availability and price (cheaper and/or more readily available species have been shown to be of greater risk), and the likelihood of establishment based on ecological niche breadth and niche overlap with environmental conditions in Germany. The survey revealed 669 species, of which 651 were non-native to Germany. Looking at release likelihood, more readily available species in pet stores and on websites proved to be cheaper. For websites, there was a significant effect of occurrence status (i.e. released, not released, native) on price, with released and native species being significantly cheaper. Species previously released in Germany and elsewhere demonstrated greater niche breadths and greater niche overlaps between their source regions and Germany; and for species released in Germany, there was a significantly positive relationship between the magnitude of niche overlap and the number of documented occurrences. Finally, we combined our release and establishment likelihood findings under 'Release Risk' metrics to highlight the species most worthy of prioritisation. We propose these metrics as proactive methods for screening species in the trade, which can inform future policy direction and intervention. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Key words