TED Conversations

Lucy Irons


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Are you concerned about the spread of invasive species?

Invasive species are non-native species that have a negative impact on their introduced environment. Invasive species are a huge issue not only due to their environmental impacts, but their economic ones as well. According to the National Invasive Species Information Center, there are currently about 50,000 invasive species in the United States alone that cost over $138 billion annually to manage. invasive species have a number of distinctive traits, including A general diet, large amounts of genetic variation, the ability to survive in a wide range of climates, a continuous breeding season, and the production of many offspring every year. What role do these versatile organisms have in a world where many species and ecosystems potentially lack the diversity required to survive rapid changes in their environment? Is it possible that, in the face of global climate change and biodiversity loss, invasive species can contribute something positive to biological systems?


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  • Mar 17 2012: I think there are definitely possibilities of invasives that can have positive effects on their ecosystem, especially given some time for the ecosystem to adapt. If ecosystems are given time to adapt, it seems to me like eliminating them could create even more problems, and may be a waste of money to remove. A quote from an article in Penn State Science (http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2011-news/Carlo2-2011) sums up this idea well:

    "Nature is in a constant state of flux, always shifting and readjusting as new relationships form between species, and not all of these relationships are bad just because they are novel or created by humans...We need to be more careful about shooting first and asking questions later -- assuming that introduced species are inherently harmful. We should be asking: Are we responding to real threats to nature or to our cultural perception and scientific bias?"
    • Mar 17 2012: I think that if an introduced organism has a positive impact on its new location then it is very well may not be an invasive species. IN this case we would need to look at the actual definition of an invasive. Is it non-native? IN this case yes. Does it do harm to its introduced environment? If the answer is no then we need to define it has something else. The negative connotations carried with invasive species would not apply this is "positive" organism. And if in time the species and ecosystem adapt to one another then it can in no way be called an invasive species.

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