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UCL Division of Biosciences

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Abstract

The number of new species arriving in the UK, and indeed across Europe, is increasing rapidly. There are now more than 2000 established non-native species in the UK and about 15% of these species threaten biodiversity, the economy and/or society. Here I provide an overview of invasion biology specifically focusing on recent trends and future predictions. I highlight the invaluable contributions of the volunteer recording community to our understanding of invasion biology. There is a need to increase understanding of community and ecosystem-level effects of invasions and I suggest that detailed field observations, through biological recording, will provide the spatial, temporal and taxonomic breadth required for such research.

Biological recording involves an estimated 70 000 people annually in the UK representing more than 85 schemes and societies covering a diverse range of taxonomic groups. Biological records make a vital contribution to monitoring of species because the datasets are long term (spanning centuries), have large geographic extent and are taxonomically diverse. The large spatial coverage and increasingly fine-scale spatial precision of biological records enable the exploration of large-scale processes that would simply not be possible without the contribution of voluntary recorders. The range of outputs from atlases showing national distributions (12 127 species from over 40 taxonomic groups) to quantified trends (to date 1636 species have been assessed) demonstrate the immense value of biological records. There is no doubt that innovative technologies and the development of statistical approaches are taking biological recording in new and exciting directions. Biological recording has a bright future with benefits for people, science, and nature.