The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Invasive Species Have Led to a Third of Animal Extinctions Since 1500
The introduction of invasive species has been the primary cause of plant and animal extinctions over the past 500 years, a new study from University College London's (UCL) Center for Biodiversity and Environment Research found.
The study, published Monday in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, looked at 953 extinctions since 1500 and found that 126 of them, or 13 percent, had been caused entirely by alien species, while 300 were caused partly by the arrival of new species, according to a UCL press release published by EurekAlert!
"Some people have suggested that aliens are no more likely than native species to cause species to disappear in the current global extinction crisis, but our analysis shows that aliens are much more of a problem in this regard," head researcher and UCL Biosciences professor Tim Blackburn said in the press release. "Our study provides a new line of evidence showing that the biogeographical origin of a species matters for its impacts. The invasion of an alien species is often enough to cause native species to go extinct, whereas we found no evidence for native species being the sole driver of extinction of other natives in any case."
The researchers used data from the 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, which lists species that have gone extinct and why. They found that invasive species were a factor in 33.4 percent of animal species extinctions and 25.5 percent of plant species extinctions. Native species, on the other hand, had caused relatively little harm, contributing to just 2.7 percent of animal extinctions and 4.6 percent of plant extinctions. Alien species were by far the greatest factor in animal extinctions, followed by biological resource use, like hunting and harvesting, which was the driver for 18.8 percent of extinctions.
The study also listed key examples of invasive species that had proved especially destructive, as iNews reported:
1. The rosy wolfsnail or 'cannibal snail': Introduced from the Southeast U.S. to islands around the Pacific, including Hawaii, to wipe out the African land snail in the 1950s, the snail has gone on to wipe out eight native Hawaiian snails and contribute to driving out dozens of snail species in the wider Pacific.
2. The black rat: The black rat has been spread around the world by boat and has led to the extinction of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants, especially on islands.
3. The red fox: When the British brought the red fox to Australia, it drove out several mammal species, including the lesser bilby.
4. Feral cats: The introduction of cats to New Zealand led to the extinction of the flightless Stephens Island wren as early as 1900.
5. The brown tree snake: When the snake was accidentally brought to Guam after the Second World War, it resulted in the loss of more than half of Guam's bird and lizard species and two of three native bat species.
- Climate Change and Invasive Milkweed Could Make Toxic Cocktail ... ›
- Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat ... ›
- These Animal Species Went Extinct in 2018 | NowThis - YouTube ›
- Invasive predators are eating the world's animals to extinction – and ... ›
- The Extinction Crisis ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Elizabeth Henderson
The certified organic label has helped save many generational farms and enabled people like me, who do not come from agricultural backgrounds, to become successful farmers. Organic farming has brought environmental benefits—healthier soils, freedom from toxic pesticides and herbicides—to 6.5 million acres in the U.S.
By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
You've probably heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin by now. But is the hype really that promising? After all, research has pointed to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements — and for many beauty-conscious folk, collagen isn't vegan.
By Marlene Cimons
Neil Pederson's introduction to tree rings came from a "sweet and kindly" college instructor, who nevertheless was "one of the most boring professors I'd ever experienced," Pederson said. "I swore tree rings off then and there." But they kept coming back to haunt him.
By Daisy Brickhill
Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.
By Sam Nickerson
Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.
Tyson Foods Recalls Nearly 70,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Customers Find ‘Fragments of Metal’
Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.
The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.
"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."