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About The Invasive Alien Species


In a bid to manage the teeming population of invasive chital (spotted deer) in Ross Island the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration recently sought help from the Wildlife Institute of India.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Invasive Alien Species
  2. Impacts of Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive alien species, also known as invasive exotic species or non-native species, are organisms introduced to regions or ecosystems outside their native range. These species establish self-sustaining populations and often outcompete native species, disrupting ecosystem balance and causing negative impacts.

Factors Contributing to the Rise of Invasive Species:
  • Global Trade and Travel: Increased international trade and travel have unintentionally facilitated the movement of species across borders. Cargo ships, airplanes, and vehicles can carry invasive species within cargo, ballast water, or attached to surfaces, aiding their spread.
  • Climate Change: Elevated temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns create environments suitable for invasive species. Altered seasonal timings can disrupt native species’ life cycles, making them vulnerable to invasive competitors and predators.
  • Deliberate Introductions: Introducing non-native species intentionally for purposes like gardening, landscaping, and pest control can lead to invasions if these species escape cultivation.
  • Historical Factors: Some invasive species, like the Black Rat introduced to Australia in the late 1800s, have historical origins associated with shipwrecks and industries like pearling. These species are now recognized as some of the “World’s Worst” invasive species.

Impacts of Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive species can have profound and often detrimental effects on ecosystems, economies, and human health. Here are some key impacts:

  • Competition with Native Species: Invasive species can outcompete native species for essential resources like food, water, and habitat, leading to a decline or extinction of native species.
  • Predation: Some invasive species become predators of native species, causing declines in prey populations. This can disrupt ecological food webs and ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem Disruption: These disruptions have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem stability and resilience, often altering the natural balance of ecosystems.
  • Economic Costs: The annual economic costs of invasive alien species have been steadily increasing, exceeding USD 423 billion globally in 2019. Costs can include damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and fisheries.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Species like Zebra mussels can clog water pipes and infrastructure, leading to expensive repairs and maintenance.
  • Reduction of Food Supply: Many invasive species impact food supplies, such as the Caribbean false mussel damaging fisheries in Kerala, India.
  • Spread of Diseases: Invasive species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti can spread diseases like malaria, Zika, and West Nile Fever, posing risks to human health.
  • Impact on Fisheries: For example, water hyacinth in Lake Victoria led to the depletion of tilapia fish, significantly impacting local fisheries and livelihoods.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024