England at risk of invasive species from Eastern Europe, models say

By on October 16, 2014

Round goby swimming near zebra mussels (Credit: Joi Ito, via Flickr)

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have determined that southeast England is most at risk for the spread of invasive species from eastern Europe, according to The Guardian. Some of the exotic species are likely to already be there but have not yet been found, researchers say.

The findings were made with modeling techniques that predicted the likelihood of 23 different species expanding in the country. Scientists also evaluated five species in particular to check how likely it is that they will increase in population and distribution.

Most of the species evaluated in the study come from the Azov, Black and Caspian Seas, near Turkey and Ukraine. If more isn’t done to prevent their spread, experts say England will suffer an “invasional meltdown,” denoted by blooming populations of invasives to the detriment of native species.

One of the alien species studied, the freshwater killer shrimp, has evolved to cohabitate with zebra mussels. Its appearance replicates the striped pattern on zebra mussel shells, while it survives on mussel waste and even hides between shells for safety.

Image: Round goby swimming near zebra mussels (Credit: Joi Ito, via Flickr)

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