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article imageNew study assesses our ability to deal with invasive species

By Karen Graham     Aug 24, 2016 in Environment
An international team of researchers has come up with a global assessment on how invasive alien species could spread in the 21st century due to increasing globalization and a changing climate.
Invasive species often called "non-native" or "non-indigenous" species refers to any plant, fungus, bacteria or animal species that is introduced either on purpose or accidentally into a location where it is not naturally found.
A fisherman caught 20 Prussian carp while fishing the Bow River in Alberta. Knowing they are an inva...
A fisherman caught 20 Prussian carp while fishing the Bow River in Alberta. Knowing they are an invasive species, turned them over to provincial biologists for study.
And according to the researchers, invasive species have always been considered a "first world" problem. Developed countries historically have the highest numbers of non-native species and some of the strongest management responses. An example would be the Burmese python in Florida or the giant hogweed plant in Canada and the U.S.
In a first of its kind evaluation of the world's nations, the researchers say that fully one-sixth of the Earth's land surface is vulnerable to a non-native species invasion. And they have forecast that with increasing globalization and environmental changes due to a warming climate, many countries with high poverty levels, and political instability, an already rich biodiversity and a history of minimal invasion by non-native species will be the most at risk.
Global invasion threat for the twenty-first century
Global invasion threat for the twenty-first century
Nature Communications
According to the BBC, Regan Early from the University of Exeter, Jeffrey Dukes from Purdue University in the US and other co-authors suggest that non-native plants, animals, and microbes could endanger livelihoods and food security in "fragile" economies.
Take note that this very thing has happened in Haiti, when United Nation peacekeepers from Nepal were sent to help the survivors of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. They brought cholera into a country that had never had the disease. Dr. Early commented: "Rampant globalization will lead to invasions in countries with the least capability to deal with them.
In 2010, Digital Journal reported on a study that looked at the surge in invasive species. And it seems that even six years ago, researchers were on the right track. At that time, besides climate change playing a role, they found that human population movement and accumulated wealth played a big role in the spread of non-native species.
A Spanish slug eating clover. Arion vulgaris is considered among the 100 worst alien species in Euro...
A Spanish slug eating clover. Arion vulgaris is considered among the 100 worst alien species in Europe in DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway.
“The overwhelming effect of human factors, wealth, and demography, found for several taxonomic groups translates to human activities responsible for enhancing biological invasions,” according to the report.
And while the wealth of some nations may have increased the likelihood of invasive species being brought into a country, the current study is now pointing to other mitigating factors that will play a role in the future. This is because the speed at which transportation, trade and the environment have changed is mind-boggling, say the researchers.
The current study's co-author Ines Ibañez of the University of Michigan said: "In the coming years, the negative impacts associated with the introduction of harmful species will likely be exacerbated by other global stressors, such as climate change, landscape degradation, and pollution.
"You can think of invasive species as biological pollution — a self-replicating change," said Prof Dukes. "It doesn't take much effort or intention to bring in an invasive species that then wreaks havoc on a landscape." He is so very correct.
This very interesting study, "Global threats from invasive alien species in the twenty-first century and national response capacities," was published in the journal Nature Communications on August 23, 2016.
More about Invasive species, worldwide assessment, nonnative species, high levels of poverty, Biodiversity
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