What is Happening?
Invasive species are all over the planet. There are the cane toads in Australia, the zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, and much more. Invasive species take over habitats, which leaves nothing for the other species. This is a problem because when the invasive species alters or eliminates environments of indigenous (native) species, it can negatively impact biodiversity.
Because populations today have the ability to travel from region to region with more ease, deliberate or accidental transportation has become a big problem. For example, the buckthorn, a shrub brought to North America for the purpose of being used as a garden plant, came from Europe and has invaded many North American forests. What the buckthorn does is it spreads and makes a layer of shrub that takes over the understory. Then, other native plants that thrive in the understory die out. Plus, the buckthorn brings in another invasive species, which is the soybean aphid. The soybean aphid lives on the buckthorn in winter, and travels to soybean fields in summer. Read about how our team helped to stop the spread of buckthorn in our Biodiversity Service Project page.
Another example of an invasive species is what happened with the cane toad. Beetles in Australia were damaging the sugar cane, so they sent over 3,000 baby cane toads from Hawaii to Australia to control the population of the pest. However, the cane toads started to eat small birds and other rodents in addition to the beetles. The cane toad population then spread very rapidly and became a pest in Australia.
How Can We Help?
We can help stop invasive species by:
- Reducing weed invasions by constant removal of non-indigenous species before they thrive in an area
- Developing ways to prevent the accidental transportation of invasive species to other places where they are likely to spread
- Working on new biological control measures that don’t have any effect on other species
- Educating people about preventing accidental transportation of invasive species
- Controlling future deliberate introductions by testing to see if they will become pests in their new habitat
There are also many other ways to stop this problem across the earth. Try and think of other ways yourself to solve this problem.