Invasive species are a big problem for the environment. One major invasive species is the Giant Reed which crowds out native species; causes fire and flooding problems.
Invasive freshwater fish species in Australia include carp, brown trout, rainbow trout, redfin perch, mosquitofish (Gambusia spp), weather loach, and spotted tilapia to name a few. Some introduced freshwater fish species have had devastating impacts on Australia’s endemic freshwater fish species and other native aquatic life. For example in much of south eastern Australia’s freshwater systems introduced carp (often incorrectly called “European” carp) dominate the lowland reaches, while introduced trout species almost completely dominate the upland reaches. While the damaging impact of carp is well recognized, little in the way of control measures have been employed to control their spread. Their ability to colonize almost any body of water, even those previously considered to be beyond their physical tolerances, is now well established.
The Honeybee is not native to the United States, but was brought to the country from Europe during the 1600’s. The Honeybee should not be considered invasive since it has not had any detrimental effects on the environment or other species.
This is often a complex environmental issue. Technically, all invasive species are bad, but there are particular cases in which the line becomes fuzzy. For example, in Key West, Florida, Australian Pines are the only shade tree at the most popular beach on the island. They have been there for decades, and without them the beach is more like a desert. However, the state is requiring that they be cut down and replaced with palm trees. In the mean time, tourism (the bread and butter of the economy) will suffer, and beach erosion will continue to worsen as the roots are removed.
While there may be economic and aesthetic benefits to introducing foreign species to a new environment, the harm often lies in how that environment reacts to the new species. Rabbits in Australia caused a huge amount of environmental harm because they were introduced to an area with abundant food and few predators. They destroyed grasslands and caused the dingo population to skyrocket. Unlike Australian rabbits, many species cause harm that isn’t immediately apparent. Foreign trees planted in South Africa enhanced the landscape and reminded British and Dutch settlers of home while slowly causing a drought because they required slightly more water than native species to live. A program to cut down nonnative trees in South Africa has caused a dramatic improvement.
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