Diversity, biogeography and the global flows of alien amphibians and reptiles

César Capinha, Hanno Seebens, Phillip Cassey, Pablo García-Díaz, Bernd Lenzner, Thomas Mang, Dietmar Moser, Petr Pyšek, Dennis Rödder, Riccardo Scalera, Marten Winter, Stefan Dullinger, Franz Essl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: We introduce a high-quality global database of established alien amphibians and reptiles. We use this data set to analyse: (1) the global distribution; (2) the temporal dynamics; (3) the flows between native and alien ranges; and (4) the key drivers of established alien amphibians and reptiles. Location: Worldwide. Methods: We collected geographical records of established amphibians and reptiles from a thorough search across a wide number of sources. We supplemented these data with year of first record, when available. We used descriptive statistics and data visualization techniques to analyse taxonomic, spatial and temporal patterns in establishment records and the global flows of alien species. We used generalized linear mixed models to relate spatial variation in the number of established species richness with variables describing geographical, environmental and human factors. Results: Our database covers 86% of the terrestrial area of the world. We identified 78 alien amphibian and 198 alien reptile species established in at least one of our 359 study regions. These figures represent about 1.0% of the extant global amphibian and 1.9% of the extant global reptile species richness. The flows of amphibians were dominated by exchanges between and within North and South America, and within Europe (59% of all links). For reptiles, the network of global flows of established alien species was much more diverse, with every continental region being both a donor and a recipient of similar importance. The number of established alien amphibians and reptiles has grown slowly until 1950 and strongly increased thereafter. Our generalized linear mixed models revealed that insularity, climatic conditions, and socio-economic development significantly influenced the distributional patterns for both groups. Main conclusions: We conclude that biological invasions by alien amphibians and reptiles are a rapidly accelerating phenomenon, particularly on islands with heterogeneous climates of economically highly developed countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)p. 1313-1322
Number of pages10
JournalDiversity and Distributions
VolumeVol. 23
Issue numbern.º 11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Biological invasions
  • Distribution
  • Establishment
  • Global Alien Herptile Database
  • Hotspots
  • Temporal trends


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