Although the Antarctic has avoided the worst effects of alien species, its future seems endangered due to increasing natural and man-made pressures. Rapid changes in three major environmental variables have occurred in the Antarctic region during the last decades. In the short term terrestrial biota are likely to benefit from reduced environmental stresses, but in the long run the colonization of the region by lower latitude species with greater competitive ability will become increasingly important and can lead to large-scale changes in biological composition and trophic complexity in some existing Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. Moreover, the recent dynamic climate changes combined with human activities in the Antarctic region might modify the status of several alien species which have hitherto been considered transient or persistent and could, therefore, become naturalized and threaten the native communities on a larger scale than today, or influence the status of naturalized species.
During three austral summer seasons cargo, expeditioner clothes and equipment of the Polish Antarctic Expedition were examined for the presence of alien propagules. Detailed inspections were undertaken at the station buildings, searching for any invertebrates. During each austral summer fresh fruits and vegetables were also inspected. A total of 359 invertebrates and their remains were found in cargo transported to Arctowski Station, or caught in the station’s facilities. The majority of samples were classified as cultivation pests (26%), food pests (43%), wood−destroying pests (4%), domestic insects and arachnids (15%). Through supply of the research station a wide range of alien organisms can be accidentally transported and ultimately introduced to the Antarctic. This study has clearly demonstrated that almost all cargo items can be a potential vector for alien organisms. Species from a broad range of biological groups can be transported to the Antarctic and remain in a viable state.