Aquatic invasive species: challenges for the future

John E. Havel, Katya E. Kovalenko, Sidinei Magela Thomaz, Stefano Amalfitano, Lee B. Kats

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

367 Scopus citations


Humans have effectively transported thousands of species around the globe and, with accelerated trade; the rate of introductions has increased over time. Aquatic ecosystems seem at particular risk from invasive species because of threats to biodiversity and human needs for water resources. Here, we review some known aspects of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and explore several new questions. We describe impacts of AIS, factors limiting their dispersal, and the role that humans play in transporting AIS. We also review the characteristics of species that should be the greatest threat for future invasions, including those that pave the way for invasions by other species (“invasional meltdown”). Susceptible aquatic communities, such as reservoirs, may serve as stepping stones for invasions of new landscapes. Some microbes disperse long distance, infect new hosts and grow in the external aquatic medium, a process that has consequences for human health. We also discuss the interaction between species invasions and other human impacts (climate change, landscape conversion), as well as the possible connection of invasions with regime shifts in lakes. Since many invaders become permanent features of the environment, we discuss how humans live with invasive species, and conclude with questions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-170
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Climate change
  • Dispersal barriers
  • Functional homogenization
  • Invasibility
  • Invasional meltdown
  • Invasiveness
  • Propagule pressure
  • Regime shifts
  • Reservoirs


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