Tracking invasive species? Follow the people

Islands and populated coastal areas are the world’s “hotspots” for invasive species, which can upend entire ecosystems and drive local animals and plants to extinction, a study reported Monday.

 The first global census of non-native fauna and flora found the highest concentrations in Hawaii, New Zealand’s North Island, and the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia.

The 50th US state is beset with alien species—including rats, feral pigs, and the firetree, which crowds out indigenous plants—in each of eight categories that include reptiles, fish, ants, spiders, mammals and amphibians.

Disease-bearing mosquitos that arrived in the early 19th century have wiped out half the island chain’s tropical birds, with several other species on the brink.

Florida is the top hotspot among mainland regions, boasting a rogues’ gallery of invaders: walking catfish, giant iguanas, mammal-crushing pythons, and monster African land snails that gobble up native plants and carry a parasite that causes meningitis in humans.

The California coast and northern Australia are also rife with uninvited guests.  Click on the following sentence to access the full story.

“We have shown that regions with higher human population density, and greater wealth, have more established alien species.”

 

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