LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF
Photo credit: http://zoorescue.blogspot.com
No, not that kind of introduction—I know it’s cute, but there is also another type of introduction that is not so wonderful. It’s called the introduction of species or, as it’s sometimes called—the introduction of alien species, or even the introduction of exotic species. It doesn't matter how you say it. The bottom line is that the introduction of non-native species into a habitat in which they would not otherwise exist can be a serious problem. The introduction of species is not limited to animals. It can include plants, fungi and microorganisms as well.
Fragrant Water Lily
I think it’s only fair to say that not all introductions of alien species are bad. Take corn for example. Did you know that corn is not native to the United States? That’s saying a lot because the U.S. is the world’s largest supplier of corn. Native Indians, in the highlands of Mexico, cultivated corn hundreds of years ago. As the Indians traveled north, they took corn with them. That was a good thing. What would we do without corn flakes? To read more about corn and its history, go to this site: http://www.campsilos.org/mod3/index.shtml
Image credit: Campsilos.org
There are a number of other examples, which include cultivation of various plants for either beauty or food. The bottom line is that with the advent of worldwide transportation, i.e., boats, planes, trains, etc., the transfer of species from their natural habitat into an ecosystem where they don’t belong can cause tremendous damage.
Australia is a microcosm (a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger) for the study of the effect of the introduction of alien species. Feral species, which are domesticated animals that have escaped and live in the wild, have done tremendous damage to the Australian outback. The domestic cat is not native to Australia and after its introduction, it depleted some of Australia’s native marsupials. The camel was brought to Australia and was initially beneficial in developing the central desert, making it habitable for humans. However, after their job was done, the camels were set free and are now roaming wild in the Australian outback. Australia more camels than any other country-more than one million. They have caused problems for farmers because they damage the farms and the water holes, which are meant for cattle.
Another troublemaker is the cane toad. It was brought to Queensland, Australia, in an effort to control a specific beetle that was harming crops. This was back in 1935, and since that time, the cane toad population has boomed because it has no natural enemies. The result has had a devastating effect on Australia’s natural inhabitants. Certain species of quoll, a small marsupial, are critically endangered because of the toad’s toxic venom.
Photo Credit: Tim Wimbourne, Reuters
The introduction of alien species into a habitat, which they would otherwise not live, is a huge subject. The pros, cons and repercussions of their effect on native wildlife and ecosystems cannot be completely covered here. What I have tried to do is give you a bit of information, encapsulate some of the large issues and provide some connections where you can go to learn more.
This video is excellent in terms of its explanation of invasive species. I highly recommend you watch it if you want to understand fully what these introductions are and what they mean to people, who by the way, are also an invasive species.
Although there are many positive aspects of the introduction of species, it is still one of the major causes of endangerment. Understanding what works and what doesn’t is essential if we are to preserve wildlife; plant, animal, and other, in their natural environment.
For more information on the introduction of alien species, visit these sites:
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s post and will considering coming back again next week. Please share my post and feel free to leave a comment.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!