Invasive Species Are On The Rise Worldwide, Study Finds

Posted: Feb 15 2017, 2:46pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 16 2017, 9:01am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Invasive Species are on the Rise Worlwide, Study Finds
Credit: University College London
 

The number of alien species has increased dramatically in recent years as 37% of all recorded invasive species were introduced between 1970-2014

From Asian carp to zebra mussels to Indian mongoose, invasive species are widely considered as a serious threat to global biodiversity. Alien or non-native plants, birds and animals can spread quickly throughout a foreign place and can dramatically alter or destroy local ecosystems. 

Researchers from UK, Germany, and Austria have teamed up to analyse the record of worldwide invasive species and they have shown that the spread of non-native species have increased tremendously during the last 200 years, with almost one third of all invasive species first reported between 1970 and 2014.

Invasive species can be introduced through a variety of means into another location but human are remarkably good at taking local species into the regions where they do not originally belong. By swimming or hitching a ride on goods or luggage invasive species find new areas to sustain and thrive.

“We observe distinct increases in first record rates of vascular plants, birds and mammals in the 19th century, probably as a result of the spread of horticulture and attempts at supposedly beneficial introductions during the period of European colonial expansion. The rates of new introductions of other organisms such as algae, mollusks or insects increased steeply after 1950, most likely because of the ongoing globalization of trade.” Study co-author Professor Tim Blackburn from University College London said in a statement.

Using a database of more than 45,000 first records of over16, 000 alien species, researchers have also shown that alien invasion is still not reached the point of slowdown or saturation. In fact, it is increasing over time.

37% of all recorded alien species were introduced between 1970 and 2014 while the peak came in 1996 when 585 new invasive species were documented worldwide.

“For most groups, the rate of introduction is highest in recent years. Barring mammals and fishes, there are no signs of a slow-down in the arrival of aliens, and we have to expect more new invasions in the near future.” Study author Dr Franz Essl from University of Vienna in Austria said.

Researchers suggest that there is an urgent need to employ more effective prevention policies at large scale before new exotic species gain a foothold outside their region of origin and alter foreign landscapes.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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