- The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report on the status of invasive alien species.
What are invasive species?
- Any non-native species that significantly modifies or disrupts the ecosystems it colonizes is referred to as invasive in nature.
- An invasive species can be any kind of living organism, an amphibian, plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm.
- Common characteristics include,
- Rapid reproduction and growth,
- High dispersal ability,
- Phenotypic plasticity (ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions), and
- Ability to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions.
Threats posed by Invasive species to native habitats
- Competition for resources: Invasive species often outcompete native species for essential resources such as food, water, light, and space.
- Habitat Degradation: Invasive species can alter habitats by modifying the physical structure or composition of the ecosystem. This can include changing soil composition, disrupting hydrological cycles, and altering nutrient cycling, leading to habitat degradation.
- Disease Transmission: Invasive species may introduce new diseases or pathogens to which native species have no resistance. These diseases can cause significant mortality or reduced reproductive success in native populations.
- Altered Ecosystem Services : Invasive species can disrupt critical ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, seed dispersal, and pollination. This disruption can have cascading effects on the entire ecosystem, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem stability.
- Biodiversity Loss: Invasive species can directly or indirectly lead to declines in native biodiversity, including local extinctions of species.
Findings of the Report
- The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control (known as the “Invasive Alien Species Report”) finds that more than 37,000 alien species have been introduced by many human activities to regions and biomes around the world.
- Invasive alien species are a significant contributor to 60% of global animal and plant extinctions, with 16% of extinctions solely attributed to them.
- The report also shows that 45% of all countries do not invest in the management of biological invasions.
- It also reveals that alongside dramatic changes to biodiversity and ecosystems, the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion annually in 2019, with costs having at least quadrupled every decade since 1970.
- Invasive alien species are one of the five major direct drivers of biodiversity loss globally, alongside land and sea-use change, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, and pollution.
- Addressing the threats posed by invasive species requires effective prevention, early detection, and rapid response strategies, along with coordinated international efforts to manage and protect native biodiversity habitats.