Invasive Species and Climate Change: A Deadly Duo

Invasive species represent a massive threat to ecosystems. They are generally non-invasive, meaning, they were previously located somewhere else, and moved into new regions. In these new regions the invasive species are not pron to predators and competitors. Which mean that they thrive in these environments. The predators and competitors would have controlled their spread in their native regions. Indirectly, invasive species compete for food and space with the other species. They also interfere with the native species growth, development, and reproduction. They place them at great risks for extinction. Invasive species can be fauna or flora and even pathogens. Animals can feed directly on other native species or make them severely ill. The plants can shade out native plants.

Climate change is altering the amount  and seasonal distribution of precipitation and seasonal temperature patterns in ways that often favor the invasive species. These types of changes will have substantial impact in many areas. Ecosystems are highly sensitive. Let us first look at climate change directly.

Our Earth is warming. Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4 F over the past century and it is projected to rise another 2- 11.5 F over the next hundred years. These rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been known to significantly cause recent climate change. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts,and as well as frequent and severe heat waves.

There are multiple reasons to believe that most climate changes will have the effect of increasing the extent, frequency, and severity of invasive species. First, climate change will almost certainly lead to changes in the placement of species, For example, warmer nighttime temperatures have led to an increase in flight activity of the winter pine moth, causing them to invade a new environment. Secondly, climate change will in many cases lead to a future of not only warmer temperatures but an increase in CO2 and an increase in nitrogen depositions. Invasive species do better in these environments than do the native species, because the invasive species have a higher tolerance to rapid environmental changes. Third, an increase in intense storms because of the climate change, has the potential to scatter invasive fauna and flora through air and water.

~JW

Further information can be found here.

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