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Invasive species are a global threat. Losses amount to hundreds of billions of dollars every year. New report

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Invasive alien species pose a serious global threat, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). As researchers emphasize, invasive species have a negative impact not only on the natural environment, but also on the economy, food security and human health.

The report on invasive alien species and their control was approved on Saturday in Bonn, Germany, by representatives of the 143 IPBES member states. The content of the document was published on Monday. It shows that, in addition to negative changes in biodiversity and ecosystems, the financial dimension of this problem is also significant: in 2019, the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion per year – with costs increasing at least fourfold every decade since 1970.

– Invasive alien species constitute a major threat to biodiversity and can cause irreversible damage to nature, including local and global species extinction, as well as threaten human well-being – said Professor Helen Roy from Great Britain, co-chair of the report (co-chaired by Professor Anibal Pauchard from Chile and Prof. Peter Stoett from Canada).

Invasive alien species are a global threat

The global threat posed by invasive species remains underestimated, the authors of the publication point out. Meanwhile, according to a new report, more than 37,000 alien species have been introduced to many regions and biomes around the world as a result of human activities. This phenomenon is growing – another 200 are recorded every year. Over 3,500 of them are harmful invasive alien species – seriously threatening nature, the contribution of the natural environment to human life and good quality of life. Meanwhile, this threat is often ignored – until it is too late to counteract it. In 2019, the global IPBES report found that invasive alien species are one of the five most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss, along with changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of species, climate change and pollution. Based on the report, governments commissioned IPBES to provide the best available evidence and identify options to address the challenges posed by biological invasions. The resulting report was prepared by 86 experts from 49 countries, working for over four and a half years. They analyzed more than 13,000 studies, with very significant contributions from indigenous peoples and local communities, which – according to the authors – makes this the most comprehensive assessment ever carried out on invasive alien species around the world.

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The yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina) is an invasive alien species that threatens native pollinators.

Yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina)Adobe Stock

Negative impact of biological invasions on native species

The authors of the report emphasize that not all alien species become invasive. ‘Invasive’ alien species are a subset of alien species that are known to have established and spread, causing negative impacts on nature and often on humans. Invasive species, posing a serious risk to nature and people, constitute about 6 percent of alien plant species, 22 percent – invertebrates, 14 percent – vertebrates and 11 percent – microorganisms. For those most directly dependent on nature, such as indigenous peoples and local people, the risk is even greater: over 2,300 invasive alien species are present in indigenous lands, threatening quality of life and even cultural identity. In the past, many alien species were intentionally introduced into ecosystems for their perceived benefits to humans. However, as the IPBES report shows, the negative effects on nature and people caused by species that have become invasive are enormous. – Invasive alien species were the main cause of global plant and animal extinction in 60 percent of recorded cases, and the only cause in 16 percent. At least 218 invasive alien species were responsible for more than 1,200 local extinctions. In fact, in 85 percent of cases, the impact of biological invasions on native species is negative, noted Prof. Pauchard. An example would be North American beavers (Castor canadensis) and Pacific oysters (Magallana gigas), which alter ecosystems by transforming habitats with serious consequences for native species.

An invasive species of earthworm is spreading across the USThey are called “crazy worms” or “Asian jumping worms.” Just touch them or take them in your hand and they start writhing and writhing like crazy. An invasive species of earthworms has spread to 15 American states, researchers report. Susan Day/University of Wisconsin-Madison

Impact on people’s lives

Almost 80% of them are negative. documented impacts of invasive alien species on human life. This is particularly true for the food supply, for example the impact of the European shore crab (Carcinus maenas) on commercial shellfish stocks in New England and damage caused by the mussel species Mytilopsis sallei in local fish stocks in India. The same applies to the impact on people’s quality of life. 85 percent documented effects are negative ones, including health effects. These include diseases such as malaria, zika and West Nile fever. They are transmitted by the invasive alien tiger mosquito species (Aedes albopictus) Whether Aedes aegyptii.

Fishing in Lake Victoria has decreased because there are fewer tilapia fish. This is the result of the spread of water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes), which is the most widespread globally invasive alien species. The second and third most common invasive species are held by lantana (Lantana camara), a plant with showy flowers, and the brown rat (Rattus rattus). “It would be an extremely costly mistake to treat biological invasions as just someone else’s problem,” Pauchard said. – They affect people in every country, from all walks of life and in every community. Even Antarctica is affected, he emphasized. The report shows that 34 percent effects of biological invasions were recorded in the Americas, 31%. – in Europe and Central Asia, 25 percent – in the Asia-Pacific region and about 7 percent – in Africa, especially in forests, woodlands and agricultural areas – with much fewer recorded freshwater (14%) and marine (10%) habitats. Invasive alien species are the most damaging on the islands, and alien plants now outnumber native plants by more than 25%. all islands. As the authors of the report point out, if remedial measures are not taken, the situation will deteriorate faster and faster. – The global economy, intensified and expanded changes in land and sea use, and demographic changes are likely to increase the number of invasive alien species around the world and spread to new countries and regions. Climate change will make the situation even worse, said prof. Roy. The report highlights that interactions between invasive alien species and other drivers of change are likely to amplify their effects. For example, invasive alien plants can impact climate change, often causing more intense and frequent fires, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The marbled sawfly is an invasive species

The marbled sawfly is an invasive speciesA new invasive species has appeared in the UK – the marbled sawfly. The presence of this bug on the islands was confirmed by British scientists.Shutterstock

“Prevention is absolutely the best and most cost-effective option.”

IPBES experts point out that preventive measures are insufficient. While 80 percent countries have goals related to the management of invasive alien species in their biodiversity conservation plans, only 17 percent has national laws or regulations regulating these matters in detail. 45 percent countries do not invest in managing biological invasions. – Prevention is absolutely the best and most cost-effective option – but eradication, containment and control are also effective in specific contexts. Ecosystem restoration can also improve management outcomes and increase ecosystem resilience to future invasive alien species. Indeed, managing invasive alien species can help mitigate the negative effects of other drivers of change, said Prof. Pauchard. The report pointed out that preventive measures such as border biosecurity and strictly enforced import controls have been effective in many cases, for example in Australasia limiting the spread of the marbled sawfly (Halyomorpha halys). Preparedness, early detection and rapid response effectively limit the rate of establishment of alien species and are particularly important for marine systems and water networks. The PlantwisePlus program, which helps small farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, was cited as a good example of the importance of general surveillance strategies to detect new alien species. For some invasive alien species, eradication has proven effective and cost-effective – especially when their populations are small and spread slowly in isolated ecosystems such as islands. An example is French Polynesia, where problems were caused by the brown rat (Rattus rattus) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Controlling non-native plants is more difficult because of the long time the seeds can remain dormant in the soil. Successful eradication programs depend, among other things, on the support and involvement of stakeholders, indigenous peoples and local communities. If eradication is not possible for various reasons, invasive alien species can often be contained and controlled – particularly in terrestrial and closed aquatic systems, as well as in aquaculture. Effective containment can be physical, chemical or biological, although the appropriateness and effectiveness of each option depends on the local context. The use of biological control of invasive alien plants and invertebrates – such as the introduction of a fungus – has proven effective Puccinia spegazzinii to combat vines Mikania micrantha in the Asia-Pacific region. – One of the most important messages from the report is that ambitious progress in combating invasive alien species is possible – said Prof. Stoett. – An integrated, context-specific approach is needed, covering entire countries and the various sectors involved in ensuring biosecurity, including trade and transport, human and plant health, economic development, etc. This will bring far-reaching benefits for nature and people, he added.

Alexandretta is a bird that adapts perfectly to freedom - even at -20 degrees C frost

Alexandretta is a bird that adapts perfectly to freedom – even at -20 degrees C frostInstead of the ubiquitous pigeons, our sidewalks may soon be dominated by half-meter-long birds with green plumage – alexandrettas. Due to human carelessness, many individuals escaped and literally flew into the world. This invasive species thrives in freedom – even when the temperature drops several degrees below zero.Shutterstock

Main photo source: Adobe Stock

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