Effects of Invasive Species to Biodiversity

Many a time some species enter non-native parts and multiply at an exponential rate, inhibit the growth of other species, and serve as a threat to biodiversity. These species are referred to as invasive or alien species. It could also be called bio-invasion and leads to bio-pollution.

The increase in transportation rates across the world has led to the import and export of a variety of goods, and the mobility of people has also increased. This indirectly has moved the flora and fauna of one place to another. The other causes for the entry of alien species are frequent climate change, tourism, pollution, migration of people, birds, and animals. Also, for recreation purposes, ornamental plants, beautiful birds, and pet animals are transported.

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Some of these species may cause havoc and disturb the ecological balance. The effects of invasive species are as follows:

Modification of habitat- These species on entering a new home, modify the habitat of its surrounding environment. Their reproductive products, secretions, physiology, their composition, and many other factors influence the surrounding region. These modifications may not render in favoring the native species.

Competition for food – Invasive species tends to compete with the innate species for its nutrients and space. According to Gause’s Competitive exclusion principle, if the invasive species is superior in terms of competition, it could displace or eliminate the native species. Sometimes, the partitioning of resources may also occur.

Predation- The invasive species might prey on the innate species and affect the biodiversity. This leads to the loss of the innate species.

Invasive species as pathogen- A fungal species non-native to the United States caused chestnut blight disease in the chestnut trees which eradicated this tree. This also led to its replacement by oak trees and some moth species who housed on the chestnut trees became extinct.

Hybridization- The invasive species if gets a chance to mate with the native species can lead to the introduction of a genetically different organism or it may displace the native species. Example- The North American mallards on mating with the ducks lead to the extinction of the native ducks.

Invasive Species and Their Attack

The feral pigs feed on small animals and birds, this reduces the population of the native birds. They also eat cereals like acorns and hence competition for food arises. They are responsible for spreading the brucellosis disease to humans and animals.

The burrowing rabbits damage the plant species, compete with the other native animals for food and nutrients.

The Zebra mussels which are natives of the Asian Caspian sea got into the Atlantic vessel and reached the Great lakes. They require a hard substance or surface to anchor on and attached themselves to many surfaces and also to the native mussels of the sea. In this process, the natives got destroyed and killed.

The brown tree snake which was introduced into the islands of Guam caused great havoc. They could climb trees and it hunted a variety of birds and reptiles. Around ten species of native birds and a kingfisher species which was found only in Guam became nearly extinct.

Eichhornia crassipes (Water hyacinth) is known as the beautiful blue devil because of the menace it has created. Owing to its beautiful flowers, it was introduced into the United States. It formed green mats on the surface of water bodies, this prevented the sunlight from penetrating and affected the marine animals. It also clogged the pipes.

The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis caused a huge population decline of the amphibian species of Eastern Australia and America.

Several other plants, animals, and microbes which were introduced into non-native regions have caused similar effects.

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