Seeds, spores, insects and different animals are becoming part of the large population of invasive species around the world. Global concern has been raised over the matter, which is why a recent team decided to investigate the causes and consequences of this situation.
A recent investigation, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that pests and invasive species cost a significant amount of money to countries, due to the agricultural damage they cause.
The world economy has been affected by invasive species around the globe, according to statistics 5 percent of global annual production, has been lost due to this non-natives. Also, it has helped animal extinction in 40 percent, in the last 400 years.
Invasive species are present in all of the country’s regions, yet those most visited by tourists with access to a marine or with tropical weathers are more susceptible than other people. Some areas like Florida, Hawaii and the west coast have been more affected by the situation, yet others such as Alaska, Texas, and Louisiana are also affected.
Invasive species can be present in fields, wetlands, rivers, coastlines, bays, and forests and are not only reduced to exotic animals, but they also include rare plants, insects, and pathogens, that generate pests and damage the ecosystem they have adapted to.
“As trade volumes continue to increase and more trade connections are made between countries, the pressures from invasive species will only intensify,” assured Dean Paini lead author of the study and scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia.
— New Scientist (@newscientist) June 3, 2016
Non-native species destroying crops
It has been estimated that around 50,000 invasive species are currently in the United States, from pets to exotic animals living in non-native ecosystems costing the nation $120 billion each year.
These invaders affect the natural fauna and flora in which they appear and in some cases they can wipe an entire ecosystem, disrupting the natural cycle of the location. For example, the Burmese pythons were introduced to the Florida Everglades after hurricanes damaged breeding facilities and have now become a threat to the natural habitat.
This invasive species also cause high economic damages, when the natural growing crops in different regions are killed or affected by them. The Australia-based study decided to evaluate the causes and consequences of this species around the globe.
The team of researchers from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, studied 1,300 non-native species in 124 countries from around the world and used global trade and annual importation in each state to estimate the impacts of these globalized pests.
The investigation was held thanks to a computer model in which the quantified the possible threats of the 1,300 species in the studied countries.An evaluation of the species was also made, to determine whether they were likely to stay and survive in the new location and if it would affect crops in the country they were located.
— Invasive Species Ctr (@InvSp) June 20, 2016
As a result, the study found that the sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the greater risks of losing agricultural value due to this species. Meanwhile, the United States and China were the most common sources of propagating invasive species to the globe.
China and the U.S were also the countries at higher risks of losing large amounts of money to this non-natives since both of the countries are characterized by having large amounts of agricultural production within their boundaries.
Nonetheless, researchers found that when comparing the gross domestic product of China and the U.S, the loss wasn’t as big as the African region, especially in Guinea and Malawi. The team struggled to understand the main factors in the matter, to create a sound pattern and generate veridic results.
These results are timeless since there is a large amount of factors that affect the consequences of this non-natives on the 124 countries studied. Such as the amount of time taken to establish in a location, the number the species increases to and the time it would take to harm the environment.
“I think the study was conducted well as an overview of the global threat to agriculture,” said Daniel Simberloff, environmental scientist, who wasn’t involved in the research to the Smithsonian museum.
The team of researchers does not seek to pinpoint names or exact consequences and facts to this matter, and rather they hope that the study serves as a warning to the world and global trade. To understand the importance of this pests occurring and the results they have and might have in the global economy.