Invasive species are of many varieties. Invasive insects for example can harm millions of trees. The main driver is the emerald ash borer, which is predicted to be responsible for 90% of 1.4 million dead trees within the next three decades.
Over the past 500 years, the introduction of invasive species has been a significant cause of animal and plant extinctions. A study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that 126 out of 953 extinctions (13%), since the year 1500, were caused by alien species. The black rat for example was introduced to Caribbean islands and other countries around the world via boats. It led to the extinction of mammals, birds, plants, and reptiles like the Antiguan Racer, nesting seabirds, and the yellow-legged gull.
Islands like the Galapagos Islands and Caribbean islands are home to 15% of bird, plant, and reptile species, with 67% of marine endemics in the surrounding oceans. There are 45% critically endangered island species. are home to 15% of bird, plant, and reptile species, with 67% of marine endemics in the surrounding oceans. There are 45% critically endangered island species.
Economies and human health are also at high risk from invasive species. These invasive species can harbor disease. The Giant African snail for example is a carrier of the rat lungworm which is a vector for meningitis. The negative impact of invasive species costs billions of dollars each year.
Invasive species that are introduced to new ecosystems end up competing with native species as they have no natural predators. They reproduce and spread, quickly taking over the area.
Biosecurity is an integrated and strategic approach to managing the risks of invasive species on human, animal, plant life, and health. Improving biosecurity measures in the Caribbean is a priority for many countries in the region. Effective biosecurity systems would be able to target known threats, prevent, or detect unexpected threats (i.e., invasive alien species).
Read more from our sources below!
ScienceAlert – Why One Invasive Insect Species Could Kill 1.26 Million Trees in The US by 2050
Eco Watch – Invasive Species Have Led to a Third of Animal Extinctions Since 1500
NWF – Invasive Species
Policy Brief – Improving Biosecurity will Safeguard our Health, Economy, and Irreplaceable Biodiversity
CaribbeanInvasives – Giant African Snail
ISSG – General Impact of Rattus rattus
Frontiers – Alien versus native species as drivers of recent extinctions