Climate change may benefit invasives while eradicating natives

So much has been said and written about climate change and global warming that thereís not much I can add that hasnít already been covered. However, personally, Iíve failed to see much attention given to the global impact of all the exotic and invasive species that have been relocated and introduced into ecosystems, thousands of miles from their home range.

This planet has experienced many climate changes over its lifetime, ranging from uninhabitable to tropical to ice ages. Species have appeared, prospered and then disappeared when climates adversely changed. So in many ways what weíre witnessing now isnít all that new, albeit fodder for debate. What is new is the rapid global relocation of so many species, thanks to a globally mobile economy that results in a potential witches brew of assorted alien species to be leapfrogged all over the planet.

Last week this column covered the many new invasive insects that are threatening to decimate many of our indigenous tree species that comprise the majority of our nationís forests. We already know the impact exotic species can have on their new ecosystems, thanks to what has occurred in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system where exotics have gained firm footholds and are negatively impacting indigenous species. But with the accelerated pace of alien introductions, what will be the long and short term impacts on our outdoor ecosystems? With few or no natural enemies present in their new environment, alien species normally thrive, at the expense of the indigenous ones.

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