Rare Whale Skeleton Underwater

Global Invasive Species Registry Progress for Protecting Species

As a way to fight animal’s extinction, a new catalogue has been created. Its main purpose is to stop biological invasions.

There exist a world registry of invasive species even though governments are not doing enough to solve the threats of  globalization to biodiversity.

This new catalogue, published in the journal Scientific Data, is supposed to be a starting point for international efforts to fight extinction alongside the “red list” of endangered species.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the biggest driver of biodiversity loss on different islands and world heritage sites is the introduction of non-native species.

Below you are going to find six biological species which were introduced to different parts of the world.

1. Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in Europe

Accidentally introduced via a pottery consignment in Bordeaux in 2004, the hornet has spread to the UK, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium and the UK posing a major threat to native pollinators – such as honeybees – and public health

2. Cane toad (Rhinella marina) in Australia

This toxic toad was intentionally introduced to control beetles in sugar cane plantations in Australia in 1935, but it is poisoning the predators that eat it and spreading across the country at the rate of about 50 km a year.

3. Yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) on Christmas Island

After arriving in this fragile ecosystem in the early 20th century, the ants – which build supercolonies and spray formic acid on the joints of prey – have decimated populations of red crabs and indirectly, through habitat impacts, contributed to the extinctions of the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat, whiptail-skink and the chained gecko.

4. Toadfish (Lagocephalus sceleratus) in the Mediterranean

The Suez Canal was the pathway for this highly toxic fish – better known by its Japanese name of fugu – which arrived in the eastern Mediterranean around 2003. It has caused several deaths and more are expected because the canal has been widened.

5. Earthworms (Lumbricidae) in North America

Brought in with European settlers and then spread due to their popularity as fishing bait, earthworms are gobbling seeds, altering soils and disrupting forest ecosystems in the Great Lakes and other regions of the US and Canada that had been worm-free for tens of thousands of years.

6. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in Africa, Europe, Asia and New Zealand

Native to the Amazon, this fast-growing hyacinth was sold widely as a cheap ornamental plant but has subsequently caused billions of dollars of damage by choking lakes, blocking river transport and starving fish of oxygen.

This invasion can also provoke great economic and health impacts, such as the arrival in Europe of the tropical mosquito which brought malaria to the place,or the spread of Latin American water hyacinths in Africa that started off as cheap ornamental plants. But ,they clog up rivers, blockships, prevent fishing and create breeding grounds for mosquitos and,at the same time, cause a loss of billions of dollars.

The cases already mentioned plus some others are all listed in the Global Registry of Introduced and Invasive Species. They represent the beginning of the process to identify and track huge risks for the environment.

Over the last eight years, an international group of more than hundreds of scientists has collaborated to create the registry as a tool (“red list”) that allows many countries to set up an early warning and a quick response system in order to prevent these non-native species from entering in an enormous number.

It was revealed that 25% of the 6,400 identified invasive species cause a negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystems in around 20 countries. By the middle of the year, this information will be updated with the remaining 182 nations.

Alien species invasions and global warming

The chair of the Rome-based Invasive Species Special Group, which led the compilation of the registry Piero Genovesi claimed that “this is a milestone,” because “With this paper, we want to show the rigor of our approach because this information will affect trade relations and other government policies.”

He noticed that biological invasions are increasing in all regions and taxonomic groups and they are likely to accelerate as a result of climate change, which is altering the ranges of habitats.

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