Friday, May 22, 2009

International Day for Biological Diversity - Invasive Alien Species

When I say alien species, I am not referring to green men from mars. These are species alien to a given eco-system. Plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms can all act as invasive alien species to destroy the biodiversity of a place. The conservation of biodiversity is being debated and tackled by the Convention on Biodiversity.

The decline or elimination of native species can occur through:

  1. Competition(Ex: Lantana camara, also known as Spanish Flag reproduces and spreads very quickly and poses a threat to other native species in few eco-systems)
  2. Predation (EX: Rattus rattus, commonly known as the ship rat has caused extinctions and catastrophic declines of native birds on islands)
  3. Transmission of Pathogens (Ex: Pathogens such as avian influenza A(H5N1)are attacking various organisms.)
  4. Disruption of natural eco-system(Ex: Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as Common Water Hyacinth has lead to disruption many ecosystems by choking lakes and making them unfit for fish.)
While Governments perform customs checks, inspect shipments, conduct risk assessments and set quarantine regulations to try to limit the entry of invasive species.

The problem can be best tackled by raising awareness among individuals and cooperation between governments. However, it might not be possible to stop the movement of organisms (especially microbes and plants) from one region to another in this era of globalization.

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