Environmental risk assessment for invasive alien species: A case study of apple snails affecting ecosystem services in Europe

Gianni Gilioli, Gritta Schrader, Nils Carlsson, Ellen van Donk, Casper H.A. van Leeuwen, Pablo R. Martín, Sara Pasquali, Montserrat Vilà, Sybren Vos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The assessment of the risk posed by invasive alien species (IAS) to the environment is a component of increasing importance for Pest Risk Analysis. Standardized and comprehensive procedures to assess their impacts on ecosystem services have been developed only recently. The invasive apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata and P. maculata) are used as a case study to demonstrate the application of an innovative procedure assessing the potential impact of these species on shallow freshwater ecosystems with aquatic macrophytes in Europe. The apple snail, Pomacea maculata, recently established in the Ebro delta in Spain resulting in a serious threat to rice production and wetlands, having also a high risk to spread to other European wetlands. Here, the population abundance of apple snails is regarded as the main driver of ecosystem change. The effects of ecosystem resistance, resilience and pest management on snail population abundance are estimated for the short (5 years) and the long (30 years) term. Expert judgment was used to evaluate the impacts on selected ecosystem services in a worst-case scenario. Our study shows that the combined effects of apple snails are estimated to have profound effects on the ecosystem services provided by shallow, macrophyte-dominated ecosystems in Europe. This case study illustrates that quantitative estimates of environmental impacts from different IAS are feasible and useful for decision-makers and invasive species managers that have to balance costs of control efforts against environmental and economic impacts of invasive species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Pest risk analysis
  • Plant pests
  • Pomacea spp.
  • Population abundance
  • Risk management
  • Wetlands


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