Invasive Species

Increasingly, global trade and communication are directly contributing to the movement of faunas and floras across biogeographical boundaries. To describe this new epoch of widespread anthropogenic influence, some researchers have suggested the term Homogocene. Species taken to new environments often thrive and become invasive. In the past few hundred years, this process has been a major cause of extinction among native species throughout the world. Although in the past, many of these losses have gone unrecorded, today, there is an increasing understanding of the ecological costs of biological invasion namely the irretrievable loss of native biodiversity.

Invasive species are organisms (plants or animals) which successfully establish themselves in, and then overcome, otherwise intact, pre-existing native ecosystems. Biologists are still trying to characterize this capability to invade in the hope that incipient invasions can be predicted and stopped. Factors may include: an organism has been relieved of the pressures of predators or parasites of its native country; being biologically “hardy”, for example, has short generations and a generalist diet; arriving in an ecosystem already disturbed by humans or some other factor. But whatever the causes, the consequences of such invasions – including the alteration of habitat and disruption of natural ecosystem processes – are often catastrophic for native species. — Invasive Species Specialist Group

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