Monday, 13 October 2014

UK waterways face 'invasional meltdown' from European organisms

13th October 2014

By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent, BBC News

Scientists are warning that an army of species from Turkey and Ukraine is poised to invade Britain's waterways.

One organism, the quagga mussel, was discovered in a river near London just weeks ago.

At least 10 others are established in the Netherlands and there is a "critical risk" of them coming here.

Researchers are also concerned that invaders, including the killer shrimp, will rapidly spread and devastate native species.

The research has been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

In the study, the team from the University of Cambridge looked at 23 invasive species that originate from the waters of the Black, Azov and Caspian seas.

They believe these creatures have spread across Europe in recent years because of canal construction that has helped them move outside their native range.

At least 14 of the species are now well established in the Rhine estuary and in Dutch ports. Four, including the bloody red shrimp, have recently crossed the Channel and established themselves here. Others are likely to follow.

According to the authors, Britain faces an "invasional meltdown".

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