Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Invasive species & human exceptionalism

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAugust 14, 2009 12:26 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

A helpful invasive species?:

Introduced species can wreak havoc on the ecosystems they invade. But what happens after they've been established for centuries? A new study in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society suggests that, in one case, an introduced species has actually become an important part of the native ecosystem -- and helps protect native species from another invader [$-a]. ... Recently a news article in Nature discussed ragamuffin earth [$-a] -- the idea that human interference in nature has so dramatically changed natural systems that it may often be impossible to restore "pristine" ecological communities. In these cases, some ecologists say, conservation efforts might be better focused on how to maintain and improve the diversity and productivity of the novel ecosystems we've inadvertently created. It looks as though the dingo could be a poster child for exactly this approach.

The havoc that introduced species have caused in some areas is well known, such as Australia (most prominently, but limited to, rabbits). But the term "invasive" seems more a normative than a scientific one, after all,

at some point endemic species were invasive.

For example, the "pristine" ecosystems of North American before Europeans arrived were certainly reshaped in the last 10,000 years by the migration of Old World species such as bison and the gray wolf, combined with human predation and utilization of fire. In fact recent research hints that the "virgin" Amazon rainforest may actually have taken up its present form after the die-off of native populations within the last 300-400 years.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In