The Illegal Wildlife Trade Is a Likely Source of Alien Species: Illegal wildlife trade and invasion risk

Pablo García-Díaz (Corresponding Author), Joshua V. Ross, Andrew P. Woolnough, Phillip Cassey

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The illegal wildlife trade is driving biodiversity declines worldwide, yet its role in transporting alien species with a high likelihood of establishment is seldom considered. We demonstrate the threat posed by the illegal reptile trade in Australia. We modeled the establishment success of alien reptiles in Australia, revealing the importance of both minimum number of release events and the body length of the species. Using our model, we screened 28 alien reptiles illegally traded in Victoria, Australia. Establishment risk varied widely across species, and a whole‐pathway analysis revealed that 5 out of the 28 species (17.9%) are likely to become established if released. The global dimension of the illegal wildlife trade calls for a tight transnational collaboration, via multilateral cooperation agreements arranging the share of resources. Complementary to this, we encourage conducting campaigns to raise public awareness about the risk and legal consequences of participating in the wildlife black market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-698
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number6
Early online date27 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016



  • alien reptile
  • Australia
  • establishment success
  • multilateral cooperation
  • propagule pressure
  • risk management
  • transport pathway

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