Invasive species are the cause of the majority of all recorded extinctions that have occurred on islands. Why do these species cause so much damage to native ecosystems?
What is an Invasive Alien Species (IAS)?
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity an Invasive Alien Species is a “species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural past or present distribution threatens biological diversity.” This is different than a non-native species. Non-native species are defined as “a species, subspecies or lower taxon, introduced outside its natural past or present distribution.” While both non-native and invasives are introduced beyond their natural ranges, the difference is damage. Invasive species are inherently damaging to their non-native ecosystems and can have detrimental effects for native species and overall biodiversity.
What is the Harm? How are Invasive Species Damaging?
Invasive alien species can alter ecosystems or cause harm in a number of different ways. According to the National Invasive Species Information Center invasives can cause harm to human health, the economy, or the native ecosystem.
Invasive species often devour and alter vegetation, compete for limited resources, spread invasive plant seeds, and consume eggs, chicks, hatchlings, and even adult bird and lizard species.
On islands, invasive species can quickly cause serious damage to native animals that have evolved without this source of competition or predation. Once introduced, IAS are capable of driving species to extinction and have been the leading cause of extinctions on islands.
Featured Image: An Endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper (Prosobonia cancellata). Credit: Marie-Helene Burle/Island Conservation
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- Press Release: Historic Project to Protect Palau’s Iconic Species Declared Successful - December 11, 2018
- Island Conservation’s Board Resolution for the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents Partnership - December 6, 2018
- Wisdom and Akeakamai Return to Midway for Another Nesting Season - December 5, 2018
- Event: Biological Control and Invasive Species Management Workshop - November 28, 2018
- Island Conservation Joins the Global Island Partnership - November 20, 2018
- Global Island Partnership Presents The Wealth of Islands: Bright Spots in Island Implementation - November 15, 2018
- Open Letter: Research on Gene Drive Technology can Benefit Conservation and Public Health - November 14, 2018
- The Economist Features Island Conservation in “The Promise and Peril of Gene Drives” - November 13, 2018
- Reflecting on 25 Years of Impact and the Next Frontier of Island Restoration - November 13, 2018