Tuesday, April 1, 2008

China troubled with invasive plants and animals

Mixed Chinese US team recently described in article "China's Booming Economy is Sparking and Accelerating Biological Invasions" how more than 400 alien plants and animals are now considered invasive in China, of which many are already causing serious harm despite the fact that they were first document a few years ago.

There are many different reasons for these invasive species and the main reason is rapid boom in China's economy that created suitable conditions for entry of these invasive species. Because of this huge economic growth there is ever-increasing number of travelers and imported goods and that is just the environment these invasive species prefer. China's network of express highways and increase in domestic air travel are also helping these species to spread out throughout the country.

Among these species insects are spreading at fastest rate and for instance the American vegetable leaf miner, first detected in China in 1993, now has habitats throughout the country. many invasive plants are also spreading throughout the country, of which many were brought to China as ornamental or fodder species like for instance Canada goldenrod that has until now invaded more than 20 provinces.

China's preparations to make Beijing 2008 Olympics as "green" as possible are also posing a serious threat since China imports many non-native grass seed and other plants just to make its landscape more beautiful. And native ecosystems aren't the only one that suffer from these invading species, as according to one preliminary estimate China's annual economic losses from invasive insects and plants are around $14.5 billion.

Invasive species problem is becoming serious threat to many parts of the world and that is certainly big ecological problem that needs much more attention, especially because of rapid rate at which these invasive species spread throughout new areas and damage they are doing in these areas, both from ecological and economic point of view.

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