Introduction of alien species is a major threat to biological diversity. Although public attention typically focuses on the species level, guidelines from the Convention of Biological Diversity define alien species to include entities below species level. This inclusion recognizes that release of nonlocal populations of native species may also result in negative effects on biodiversity. In practice, little is known about the extent, degree of establishment, or the effects on natural gene pools of such releases. Existing information on the releases in Sweden shows that alien populations are spread to a great extent. The most commonly released species include brown trout, Atlantic salmon, Arctic char, common whitefish, Scots pine, Norway spruce, mallard duck, gray partridge, and pheasant. Although millions of forest trees, fish, and birds are released annually, poor documentation makes the geographic and genetic origin of these populations, as well as the sites where they have been released, largely unclear. We provide recommendations for urgently needed first steps relating to the risks and problems associated with release of alien populations.
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Vol. 35 • No. 5