Nav: Home

Biological invasions threaten developing countries

August 23, 2016

Invasions from alien species such as Japanese Knotweed and grey squirrels threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world's poorest nations, new University of Exeter research shows.

The damage caused by non-native species like the Harlequin ladybird and mink threaten global biodiversity and cost global economies US$1.4 trillion annually. They can transmit disease, choke river systems and wells, prevent cattle being able to graze and out-compete or eat native species.

This is often seen as a "first world" problem. Experts have now shown these invasions are also threatening the last remaining biodiversity strongholds in the world's most fragile economies. One sixth of the global land surface is highly vulnerable to invasion, including substantial areas in developing nations and areas with diverse species of birds and plants.

A new study says better action is needed to protect people and the environment in areas with high levels of poverty.

Increasing globalization, especially imports of pets and plants, has have caused much of the biological invasions in the past. In the future air travel will be responsible for biological invasions of Africa and Asia. This will be exacerbated by climate change, and intensifying agriculture, which make it easier for invasive species to become established.

Rich nations are accustomed to the nuisance of invasive alien species, and are increasingly taking protective action. The study outlines how poorer economies are crucially reliant on international trade and have little power to regulate imports, so the introduction of highly dangerous species continues unchecked.

Researchers have evaluated the global 21st century threat from invasive species, and have found many developing nations are not capable of responding properly. They hope their findings will lead to governments and NGOs improving schemes to warn communities of the threats of biological invasion and provide solutions.

Dr Regan Early, from the University of Exeter, who lead the study, said: "Rampant globalisation will lead to invasions in countries with the least capability to deal with them. We need more international cooperation, and the US, Australia and nations in Europe to share expertise."

Study co-author Ines Ibañez of the University of Michigan, said: "In the coming years, the negative impacts associated with the introduction of harmful species will likely be exacerbated by other global stressors, such as climate change, landscape degradation and pollution.

"Developed and developing countries--especially the latter--may lack the operational infrastructure to prevent and deal with harmful introductions."

Purdue University's Jeffrey Dukes, who also co-authored the study, said that dramatic changes in trade, transport and the environment pose challenges to native species that have evolved over thousands of years to be well adapted to their ecosystems.

"We're rapidly shifting the ground under native species," he said. "While species can presumably evolve to be better adapted to new conditions, we don't know how long that could take."

The researchers collected information about trade, particularly plants and pets and air travel and compared this to information about climate change, wildlife and agriculture to model where invasions are likely to be identified.

Biological invasions in the developing world so far have included the recent influx of Diamondback moths, panama disease, which wiped out banana plantations in central and south America, and prickly pear, which devastated grassland in Africa, leading to cattle being malnourished and people losing their livelihoods. A new strain of panama disease currently threatens the global banana market. It can take more than a decade for an invasion to take hold.

Global threats from invasive species in the 21st Century and national response capacities is published in the journal Nature Communications.
-end-


University of Exeter

Related Climate Change Articles:

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
Historical climate important for soil responses to future climate change
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam, examined how 18 years of drought affect the billions of vital bacteria that are hidden in the soil beneath our feet.
Can forests save us from climate change?
Additional climate benefits through sustainable forest management will be modest and local rather than global.
From crystals to climate: 'Gold standard' timeline links flood basalts to climate change
Princeton geologists used tiny zircon crystals found in volcanic ash to rewrite the timeline for the eruptions of the Columbia River flood basalts, a series of massive lava flows that coincided with an ancient global warming period 16 million years ago.
Think pink for a better view of climate change
A new study says pink noise may be the key to separating out natural climate variability from climate change that is influenced by human activity.
Climate taxes on agriculture could lead to more food insecurity than climate change itself
New IIASA-led research has found that a single climate mitigation scheme applied to all sectors, such as a global carbon tax, could have a serious impact on agriculture and result in far more widespread hunger and food insecurity than the direct impacts of climate change.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.