22 NOVEMBER 2013 VOL 342 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org 930
edited by Jennifer Sills
LETTERS I BOOKS I POLICYFORUM I EDUCATION FORUM I PERSPECTIVES
Crypt dynamics Social media
on Invasive Species?
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION RECENTLY PUB-
lished its long-awaited draft legislation on
invasive alien species (1). The proposed
regulation implements a key target of the
European Union Biodiversity Strategy (2),
aiming to bring EU policy in line with the
Convention on Biological Diversity targets
for 2020, which obliges signatories to identify and prioritize invasive alien species and
their pathways of invasion, to control or eradicate priority species, and to manage pathways to prevent the introduction and establishment of new invasive alien species (3).
An EU-wide regulation that coordinates
a preventative and responsive system across
the member states is a welcome step forward. However, one aspect of the draft risks
fundamentally compromising its capacity to
tackle the issue: The list of species to which
the system would apply is strictly capped at a
maximum of 50 species, for at least an initial
period of 5 years after adoption (realistically,
until 2020). This is only 3% of the 1500 invasive alien species already recognized as present and problematic in the European Union
(1, 4), which generate a minimum estimated
cost of €12.5 billion annually (5, 6).
The justification for capping the number
of priority species is “to provide member
states with certainty regarding the extent and
Atlantic Rainforest’s Jaguars in Decline
IN HER NEWS FOCUS STORY “PREDATORS IN THE
’hood” (20 September, p. 1332), V. Morell
reported that top predator populations are
coming back across much of North America.
Meanwhile, predators in Brazil continue to
decline. A recent meeting of wildlife experts
indicated that the Atlantic rainforest that once
stretched along the coast of Brazil and parts of
Argentina and Paraguay may soon be the first
tropical biome to lose its largest top predator,
the jaguar (Panthera onca). Researchers estimated fewer than 250 mature jaguars alive in
the entire biome, distributed in eight isolated
populations (1). Even worse, molecular analyses demonstrate that local effective population
size (a critical parameter for the maintenance of
genetic diversity) is below 50 animals (2).
Jaguars are persecuted for their potential impact on livestock, and their prey have been
overhunted even in large protected areas (3). Jaguars provide a crucial service in controlling
herbivores (capybaras, deer, and peccaries) and smaller predators (pumas, ocelots, foxes,
and racoons), and their overall extinction will likely disrupt predator-prey interactions with
unpredictable effects on ecosystem function (4). The Atlantic rainforest is a highly fragmented biodiversity hotspot, with less than 12% of the original area left (5). Although 24%
of the remaining areas are large enough to support jaguars, jaguar populations can be found
in only 7% of the rainforest (4).
Population supplementation and reintroduction programs may provide new hope for jag-
uars, but uncontrolled hunting of jaguars and their prey is still widespread in most protected
areas, threatening the persistence of this important top predator. In the absence of effective
protection and management, the fate of the largest predator of the Atlantic forests is bleak.
MAURO GALETTI,1 EDUARDO EIZIRIK,2,3 BEATRIZ BEISIEGEL,4 KÁTIA FERRAZ,5 SANDRA CAVALCANTI,3 ANA
CAROLINA SRBEK-ARAUJO,6 PETER CRAWSHAW,4 AGUSTIN PAVIOLO,7 PEDRO MANOEL GALETTI JR.,8 MARIA
LUISA JORGE,1,9 JADER MARINHO-FILHO,10 UGO VERCILLO,4 RONALDO MORATO3,4
1 Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, 13506–900, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil. 2Faculdade de Biociências,
PUCRS, Porto Alegre, 90619–900, RS, Brazil. 3Instituto Pró-Carnívoros, 12947–110, Atibaia, SP, Brazil. 4Instituto Chico
Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Brasília, 70670–350, DF, Brazil. 5 Departamento de Ciências Florestais,
Universidade de São Paulo, Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz,” Piracicaba, 13418–900, SP, Brazil.
6Universidade Vila Velha, Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, 29102– 920, Brazil. 7Instituto de Biología Subtropical, CONICET-UN
Misiones, Iguazú, N3370AIA, Argentina. 8Departamento de Genética e Evolução, Universidade Federal de São Carlos,
São Carlos, 13565– 905, SP, Brazil. 9Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240, USA. 10Departamento de Zoologia,
Universidade de Brasília, 70910–900, Brazilia, DF, Brazil.
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
1. B. M. Beisiegel, D. A. Sana, E. Moraes Jr., CatNews Special Issue 7, 14 (2012).
2. T. Haag et al., Mol. Ecol. 19, 4906 (2010).
3. F. C. C. de Azevedo, V. A. Conforti, Mammalia 72, 82 (2008).
4. M. L. S. P. Jorge, M. Galetti, M. C. Ribeiro, K. M. P. M. B. Ferraz, Biol. Conserv. 163, 49 (2013).
5. M. C. Ribeiro, J. P. Metzger, A. C. Martensen, F. J. Ponzoni, M. M. Hirota, Biol. Conserv. 142, 1141 (2009).
Letters to the Editor
Letters (~300 words) discuss material published in
Science in the past 3 months or matters of general interest. Letters are not acknowledged upon
receipt. Whether published in full or in part, Letters are subject to editing for clarity and space.
Letters submitted, published, or posted elsewhere,
in print or online, will be disqualified. To submit a
Letter, go to www.submit2science.org.