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Facing up to alien invasive animals in Europe

| July 22, 2015
Ring-necked parakeets (Psitacula krameri ) cause both problems in agriculture and are a general a nuisance. Image credit GBNNSS.

Ring-necked parakeets (Psitacula krameri ) cause both problems in agriculture and are a general a nuisance. Image credit GBNNSS.

An alien or non-native species is an organism that has become established in an area outside of its normal native range, as a result of human activity. An invasive alien species (IAS) is one which is having negative impacts in that colonised area.

A generation ago, the concept of invasive alien species and their potential impact on native ecosystems, was poorly understood. There were few controls over importation and release of species from other countries or continents. In many cases, organisms were released into the natural environment simply to ‘improve’ the landscape, without any consideration of how they might interact with the local ecology. Now, in the 21st century, the impact of IAS has been described as “immense, insidious and usually irreversible” (IUCN, 2000).

The biology of invasive species, their impact on natural ecosystems and their management are now receiving much greater attention than a generation ago. Many universities now teach this topic – Invasion Biology, while there are several journals specifically focussed on IAS, together with dedicated societies and conferences. This investment has been essential in providing a solid evidence base, not only for the growing number of management programmes internationally, but also for developing governmental policy targeted at IAS.

The scale and origin of the IAS problem

In Europe, there are now estimatedto be around 10,000 established plantand animal alien species. Most of thesedo not cause problems and indeedare highly beneficial to the economy,food production and human welfare.However around 15% of these specieshave made the transition from simplybeing alien species, to being invasive……..

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – May/June 2015 issue.

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Author: Clive Boase*

*Clive Boase, The Pest Management Consultancy,

Featured image :- Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) displaces the native red squirreland causes damage in buildings. Image credit GBNNSS.

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Category: Agriculture, Public health

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