What is an invasive species?
An invasive species is an organism that is non-native to a particular ecosystem, and whose introduction causes ecological, economic, or human health harm.
What is a native species?
A native species is one that has been present/evolving for hundreds or thousands of years in the ecosystem it is found in, without the influence of human activity. In the United States, this is typically defined as any species present prior to European colonization.
What is an exotic/non-native species?
An exotic or non-native species is an organism that is living in an ecosystem that is outside of their native range, often introduced by humans (intentionally or accidentally).
Why are invasive species a problem?
Invasive species can harm natural communities and systems (plants and animals found in particular physical environments) by out-competing native species, reducing biological diversity, altering community structure and, in some cases, changing ecosystems. Additionally, they can threaten our food supply, landscapes and human health.
How do invasive species spread?
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, invasive species are typically spread by people, intentionally or accidentally. Some of the ways aquatic species are spread include: boat propellers, ballast water, in/on anything that comes in contact with or holds water, dumping aquariums or the release of exotic pets. Some of the ways terrestrial species spread include: the transport of firewood, the soil of non-native ornamentals or on shipping pallets, clothing and pets. Additionally, climate change could allow some species to increase their range or have a higher impact on their hosts.
Are all exotic species invasive?
No, not all exotic species are considered invasive. Some exotic species are fundamental to our lifestyle, such as food crops. Only exotic species that grow and reproduce out of control and have a detrimental impact on the environment, economy, or human health can be considered invasive.
How are invasive species harmful?
Ecological Harm: They outcompete native species, lack natural predators, and often create monocultures, making other species in the ecosystem more susceptible to disease and extinction.
Economic Harm: They can damage our infrastructure and impact recreation and tourism. Additionally, prevention and early detection costs are much lower than control costs after an invasive species is established.
Human health Harm: They can serve as vectors for human diseases or are poisonous. A specific example of this is giant hogweed, which has sap that makes human skin sensitive to ultraviolet radiation and can result in severe burns, blistering, painful sores, and/or purple or blackened scars.
Why do invasive species outcompete native species?
Aside from lacking natural predators and pests, invasive species also typically have a higher rate of reproduction, shorter generation times, extended growing seasons, and are able to grow in disturbed or polluted areas that other species may not be able to tolerate.
What can I do to make sure I don’t spread invasive species?
Make sure you clean off your outdoor recreation gear (clothes, shoes, hiking gear, etc.), don’t release pets or dump the contents of an unwanted aquarium, plant native species, and clean, drain, and dry your boats, trailer and recreational equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species.
How can I report an invasive species if I find one?
Report your sightings on iMapInvasives! It is an online database for invasive species observations, these observations are confirmed by experts to ensure accuracy. By having volunteers submit this information, natural resource managers are better able to manage their invasive species infestations and environmental organizations can best focus their outreach efforts to prevent species from spreading to new locations.
Can I get in trouble for moving around/possessing invasive species?
For information about regulations related to moving and/or possessing invasive species see the Part 575 FAQs.