Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More than 1000 invasive species disturbing ecosystems in Europe

There are more than 11000 invasive species in Europe but luckily only 1000 these species are doing damage to ecosystems across the whole Europe. However, 1000 species is still a big number, big enough to cause big environmental and economic damage. The impacts of many of these invading species go unnoticed but changes they make are in many cases irreversible, and we are really talking about one very serious ecological problem that needs quick solution.

Latest study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment has revealed that these alien species are in fact a massive ecological problem, and they are causing multiple damage each year by decimating crops, upsetting ocean food chains and worsening human health problems like hay fever. These invasive species are very often introduced by humans, sometimes accidentally, and sometimes intentionally (cultivating plants for horticulture).

Governments across the Europe are becoming more and more aware how serious invasive species problem really is, and many of them are working on different solutions to protect native species and stop invasive species from spreading even further. This problem is more serious than many people think it is, and countries are spending lot of money each year to stop the invasion of new species as much as possible. For instance Britain spends at least $194 million per year to tackle 30 types of alien weeds and sees an estimated $4.9 billion in annual crop losses caused by invasive insects and animals and disease-carrying pathogens; Italy for instance has spent $1.4 million in a failed attempt to control an influx of Asian long-horned beetles, and additional $3.6 million is spent controlling nutria, or coypu, a South American semi-aquatic rodent sometimes known as the beaver rat, which was introduced to Europe by fur ranchers.

These examples are only single damage estimates so you can imagine the gigantic sum we would be talking if we would be estimating damage of all invasive species. However it has to be said once again that less than 10 % of all invasive species are harmful but even such a small percentage is more than enough to make serious environmental and economic damage. As Montserrat Vila of the Donana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, lead author of the study, said: " These changes (caused by invasive species) can be irreversible, and many are as important as the changes caused by climate change or pollution.

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