By Evangeline Bodhuri
An invasive species is a group of animals that comes to a new ecosystem, a place with many different species that interact with each other, and hurts the new environment. This means they have the ability to spread in their new habitat and they can thrive there, harming other groups of animals that already lived there. Human beings are often the reason a species is moved to another ecosystem because humans often carry organisms and travel, either unintentionally or purposefully. Invasive species are usually able to survive and reproduce in their new environment because they don’t have any natural predators there.
These invasive species are harmful for a variety of different reasons. Firstly, they bring an imbalance in the competition existing in the ecosystem and this causes other populations to die out. For example, an invasive species may prey on the same organisms as a native species, and the native species may not be able to find enough food to survive. Invasive species may also outcompete another species for space in the ecosystem; the invasive species might occupy a certain habitat that another species needs, leaving the native species without a home.
Another way invasive species can harm an ecosystem is by spreading diseases. The invasive species may harm the native populations by spreading a deadly disease that native populations are not tolerant to or the invasive species may be a disease itself. For example, a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica, or chestnut blight, invaded New York and damaged the chestnut trees there. This caused ecological damage because other species depended on the nuts as a vital source of energy.
Invasive species can also be harmful to populations that are endangered, or at risk of extinction. Invasive species may prey on a population that is endangered, causing it to go extinct, or the invasive species might outcompete the endangered population. One example of this is with the murder hornets that were almost devastating to North America. They preyed on honey bees, but honey bees were already endangered because of harsh winters and climate change. This example also shows how these endangered species can impact the whole ecosystem because many plants depend on honey bees for pollination and many animals depend on the fruit produced by the plants. In addition, many animals rely on the honey that the bees make for their food, so an invasive species that harmed honey bees would harm all these other species.
Invasive species are harmful to humans indirectly because they hurt the ecosystem, but they can also hurt human beings directly by hurting the economy. Invasive species may cause damage to crops that humans grow or they can impact a population that contributes to these crops. This causes the amount of crops the farmers produce to go down very quickly, causing the farmers to lose a great amount of money and causing people to have shortages for food. Another way invasive species have a negative impact on the economy is that they can target a certain animal human beings consume regularly, devastating the industry based on such an animal.
While invasive species certainly have negative effects, 3 main methods are used to stop their spread: mechanical control, chemical control, and biological control. Mechanical control means removing an invasive species physically, by using traps or harvesting the invasive species. Chemical control means using chemicals like insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and attractants to remove an invasive species or to lure an invasive species into a trap. Biological control means introducing another species into the environment to act as a predator for the invasive species. These three methods vary in effectiveness and they also have drawbacks because they might be as harmful as the invasive species itself. The easiest way to stop invasive species is by preventing their spread before they become a problem. This can be done by monitoring borders carefully and cleaning up before travelling.
In conclusion, invasive species can impact the environment and the economy in a number of ways, but they can be managed through control techniques and prevention. Human beings are required to be watchful of invasive species and take preventative measures when travelling because of the severe ecological effects of invasive species. Finally, invasive species need to be studied and researched more thoroughly for scientists to preserve the stability of ecosystems around the world.
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