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article imageEurope invaded by alien species- 1517 of them

By Paul Wallis     Jan 26, 2008 in Environment
French scientists have done a study to identify the invaders. The numbers are big, and getting bigger. On average, 19 new species of invertebrate enter Europe every year. In the middle of the 20th century, it was 10 a year.
Some were introduced by transport. Others are actual migrants. Climate change is a well known driver of ecological change. Recently, Mediterranean jellyfish were discovered in billions off Northern Ireland.
That’s a big ecological change. Sea life and terrestrial both work on temperatures, particularly invertebrates. They’re designed to exist in certain environments.
Space Daily has the story, in over abbreviated part, with a link to the study, and the figures are a little off between the article and the study, but it’s an epic of eco-mutation.
The source of this study is DAISIE, (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventory Europe.)
The list includes plants, fungi, insects, mollusks, algae, birds, moss, crustaceans, mammals, herbs, worms… almost an ecology of itself. Most of the invaders come from Asia, with some assistance from North America.
The threat here is that most of these are base-level ecosystem populations. Algae and fungi, for example, underpin food chains and soil chemistry, respectively.
Change the mix, and you really change the environment.
Higher mammals make their mark pretty fast, too.
One of the more impressive invaders is this guy, the Raccoon Dog, which isn’t actually a dog, (it’s a canid, a relative of dogs and wolves, sole member of its species) but a threatened species in Asia, because of being a fur trade victim. It’s about the size of a fox, and it’s omnivorous.
That it’s listed as an invader means it’s found a niche in the European ecology, somehow, despite a big population of dogs and foxes.
One invasive species can trash an ecology.
1517 of them means producing a whole new ecology.
It’s been done before.
Two of the earliest alien species in Europe were Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon humans, and look what happened.
More about Europe, Invasive species, Ecology
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