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Invasive Species: A Threat to Natural Systems

Invasive species

Context: A study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology revealed that approximately 66% of India’s natural ecosystems face a threat from invasive species.

About Invasive Species:

Invasive species are animals or plants from another region of the world that don’t belong in their new environment. Natural movement of plants and animals across habitats is common, but when accelerated by human actions—intentional or inadvertent—it triggers a ‘biological invasion’. Biological invasions are widespread, impacting ecosystems globally and pushing numerous species towards extinction. They can lead to the extinction of native plants and animals, destroy biodiversity, and permanently alter habitats.

Characteristics of Invasive Species:

  • They can proliferate extensively in new environments, swiftly occupying larger areas and altering the local territories while displacing native species.
  • Their spread often leads to significant economic and environmental damage in the invaded regions.

Triple Impact of Biological Invasion:

  1. Extinctions: 60% of recorded global extinctions are attributed either solely or partially to invasive alien species, with 90% of these extinctions occurring on islands. 218 invasive species caused 1,215 local extinctions of native species.
  2. Reduced Quality of Life: They negatively affect the quality of life in 85% of instances.
  3. Economic Costs: The economic impact of biological invasions has quadrupled each decade. In 2019, the annual global economic cost of these invasions amounted to $423 billion.
    • Nearly 92% of this cost stems from the adverse impact on nature’s contributions to people and the quality of life.
    • Around 8% of the total cost belongs to management expenditures to address biological invasions.

Social Impact:

Invasive alien species exacerbate marginalization and inequality, sometimes leading to gender and age-specific disparities in certain contexts.

Read Also: Biological Diversity Act- An Overview

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