Alien or invasive species, which include both animals and plants, can be very damaging as they enter an established ecosystem and measures to remove them can be costly or inefficient. So an international team of researchers set out to determine where such species are most likely to take over.
According to their results, invasive species are more likely to install and become abundant along coastal regions or on islands.
Global Maps Helped Determine Invasive Species Patterns
For this research, the study team turned to mapping out the global distribution of various types of alien species. They included everything from mammals to birds, amphibians to fish, ants to plants. Based on these maps, the team was able to identify and gain further insight into their geographic patterns.
These observations revealed that 423 mainland regions and 186 islands host larger concentrations of alien species. The largest numbers, both in terms of plants and animals, were registered in New Zealand and Hawaii.
“Both regions are remote islands that used to be very isolated, lacking some groups of organisms altogether — such as mammals, for instance,” stated Franz Essl, of the University of Vienna, Austria.
He then continues by pointing out that, presently, both are highly developed countries which maintain strong, constant trade relations. Thanks to them, non-indigenous have both entered and gotten naturalized on the islands.
According to the study results, trade relations are another essential element in the introduction and distribution of invasive species. Coastal and insular regions are already more exposed to alien species based on their geography. But great trade and economic activity levels and a denser human population are also important factors.
They increase the likelihood of introducing new species in an area. Humanity’s effect on the environment, in some cases destructive, also help non-indigenous species take root and spread as the local populations are already weakened.
Study results are available in a paper in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The research team considers that trade regulations and stronger conservation programs would be needed to help protect coastal and insular regions from invasive species and the ecological degradation they bring with them.
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