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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Biological invasions threaten developing countries and remaining biodiversity strongholds

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August 23, 2016 University of Exeter

Invasions from alien species such as Japanese Knotweed and grey squirrels threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world’s poorest nations, new University of Exeter research shows.

The damage caused by non-native species like the Harlequin ladybird and mink threaten global biodiversity and cost global economies US$1.4 trillion annually. They can transmit disease, choke river systems and wells, prevent cattle being able to graze and out-compete or eat native species.

This is often seen as a “first world” problem. Experts have now shown these invasions are also threatening the last remaining biodiversity strongholds in the world’s most fragile economies. One sixth of the global land surface is highly vulnerable to invasion, including substantial areas in developing nations and areas with diverse species of birds and plants. A new study says better action is needed to protect people and the environment in areas with high levels of poverty.

Increasing globalization, especially imports of pets and plants, has have caused much of the biological invasions in the past. In the future air travel will be responsible for biological invasions of Africa and Asia. This will be exacerbated by climate change, and intensifying agriculture, which make it easier for invasive species to become established.

Rich nations are accustomed to the nuisance of invasive alien species, and are increasingly taking protective action. The study outlines how poorer economies are crucially reliant on international trade and have little power to regulate imports, so the introduction of highly dangerous species continues unchecked….”We’re rapidly shifting the ground under native species,” he said. “While species can presumably evolve to be better adapted to new conditions, we don’t know how long that could take.”

  1. Regan Early, Bethany A. Bradley, Jeffrey S. Dukes, Joshua J. Lawler, Julian D. Olden, Dana M. Blumenthal, Patrick Gonzalez, Edwin D. Grosholz, Ines Ibañez, Luke P. Miller, Cascade J. B. Sorte, Andrew J. Tatem. Global threats from invasive alien species in the twenty-first century and national response capacities. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 12485 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS12485

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160823083217.htm

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