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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

SILVA, CLAUDIA A  and  SAAVEDRA, BÁRBARA. Knowing for controlling: ecological effects of invasive vertebrates in Tierra del Fuego. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2008, vol.81, n.1, pp.123-136. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2008000100010.

The Tierra del Fuego (TDF) archipelago is recognized as part o the last places on Earth that may still be considered wild. However, this condition may be threatened by the large number of invasive species present on the archipelago. These species can have significant effects on the ecology of the invaded ecosystems, at the genetic as well as at population, community and ecosystem levels. The aim of this study is to, by a bibliographic review, systematize existing information on the ecological impacts these species would be having on the TDF archipelago and detect information gaps in order to orient future research and effective management programs on these species. We restricted our review to vertebrate, non-marine invaders. We determined which species have invaded TDF, described their impacts on the archipelago and evaluated their potential impacts; this last issue was determined by reviewing some of the impacts these species have had in other geographic areas. Our findings indicate that at least nine vertebrate species (Salmo trutta, Salvelinus fontinalis, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Castor canadensis, Ondatra zibethicus, Oryctolagus cuniculus, Pseudalopex griseus, Mustela vison and Sus seroja) have wild populations established away from human settlements in TDF. There is some scientific evidence on ecological impacts on the area for only five of these invaders, with the American beaver (Castor canadensis) being the species monopolizing the greatest number of studies. These results contrast with the recognition, both in TDF and worldwide, of the potential of most of these species to cause significant ecological impacts, which makes it unlikely that the lack of verified impacts on TDF reflects an absence of significant effects of these invaders on the archipelago. We suggest that future research should focus on determining population density and distribution of these and other (i.e., feral species) invasive vertebrates, as well as their impacts mainly on freshwater systems, vegetation, soil and ground nesting birds. Regarding management, interactions between invaders must be considered. Whether the TDF archipelago is especially vulnerable to biological invasions remains to be proven, however, future introductions should be carefully weighed

Keywords : impacts; introduced; exotic; Chile; Argentina.

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