NORTH-East researchers have mapped the world’s hotspots for alien plant and animal species in the first global analysis of the subject.

An international team of researchers, led by Durham University, found that islands and mainland coastal regions are the world’s hotspots for alien plant and animal species.

According to the research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the UK, and England in particular, has more established alien plants and animals than many other global regions.

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These include the Indian rose-ringed parakeet in London, plants like Himalayan balsam, grey squirrels and the noble false widow spider, which was introduced accidentally in cargoes of fruit.

The top three global hotspots were the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand’s North Island and the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia.

Lead author Dr Wayne Dawson, from Durham’s department of biosciences, said: “In general, regions that are wealthier, and where human populations are denser also have more alien species, but these effects are stronger for islands.

“More work is needed to understand whether these effects arise because more species are introduced to hotspot regions, or because human disturbance in these regions makes it easier for the newcomers to find vacant spaces and opportunities to thrive.”