Invasive Species Examples

Invasive Pythons in the Everglades

There are sayings such as "ignorance is bliss", "knowledge is power", and "my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge". All these sayings play a part when it comes to invasive species. Plus people, particularly children, who might release their pets into the wild might say, "I didn't know."

What is an invasive species? It is something that is not natural to the terrain. It is a form of wildlife or pet that is released into the terrain, and because there are no natural defenses against it, it can multiply and take over an ecosystem.

A good example is the python snake in the Everglades in Florida. This snake has been released and now there are many, many pythons in the Everglades that pose a threat to humans and wildlife alike.

Pythons are called "apex predators". This means they are at the top of the food chain. This means there is no species and meaner than they are to remove them from the scene. Pythons are able to constrict and squeeze a person to death, particularly a smaller person. They can grow to be 23 feet long, and up to 200 pounds. For now, they have remained in the Everglades where there is plenty of food, but there is a danger of them spreading. This would impact not only wildlife, but theme parks, vacation resorts, and any place with suitable climate. It is no small problem.

It is thought that pythons were released by pet owners when they got too big, or perhaps escaped. In any case, they are here and multiplying. The problem is big enough that there is a ban being considered on other species of snakes, to keep them from coming into the country and taking over in other locales.

Snakes are not the only species that is invasive. There are plants that are invasive. There are fish that are invasive. It is anything that comes into the country for which there is no natural predator.

In nature, over time, a balance is set up. There are small plants and animals that are eaten or replaced by larger plants, animals, and birds, or in the case of water, by fish. Over time, a balance is created. If predators eat too much of the prey, their available food is reduced, and not as many predators can survive. If there are not enough predators, the prey multiple, and become easy catches for the few predators there are, and then the predators, now well-fed predators, multiple as well. And so goes. A balance is set up between prey and predators and between the various species of plants, animals, birds, fish, reptiles, and aquatic plants.

The problem arises when a foreign species is introduced. If something is brought over from Asia or Africa, for example, and it escapes in the wilds, or is introduced deliberately into the wilds, it may or may not survive. There has to be a certain minimum climate temperature and a certain amount of food compatibility to survive. However, if the species does survive, it is now in an environment where there are no natural predators. It can grow and multiply without limits, eating up all the other species, and then expand out into other areas.

Invasive Goldfish

Goldfish is another pet that can be invasive too. They seem innocent enough. They are sold cheaply, and also often offered as prizes at county fairs. However, the problem begins when they are released into the wild.

Goldfish will begin to grow bigger when they are not confined to the limits of an aquarium. As they grow bigger, they can eat food that normally other fish in the ecosystem would eat. This stunts the growth and population of the native fish. With the native fish population being stunted, this provides less food for larger species of fish. These fish in turn can be food for larger species of fish, or animals, or large birds such as eagles. There is a food chain, and when a change happens at any part of that chain, it causes reactions, as a row of dominoes falling.

Take Lake Tahoe, for example. Goldfish have been released there. Gold fish eat minnows. However, minnows are also food for trout. So the goldfish affect the trout population. And, fishermen like to fish for trout, not goldfish, so it affects the fishermen as well. Because Lake Tahoe is a tourist attraction, biologists have been employed to deal with the goldfish problem. Lake Tahoe is not the only place where goldfish are an invasive species, but it is a good example as it shows how the problem can not only affect nature, but also tourism industries. For that matter, speaking of tourism, doesn't the idea of meeting with a 23 foot python, the invasive species talked about earlier, put a damper on any desire to go to the Everglades?

In Conclusion - Don't Release Pets

In conclusion, don't release pets into the wild. It is better not to purchase anything exotic in the first place, that may become a problem by growing too large, such as a python. It really is a problem if a person has an affection for their pet and wants to release it because it is no longer possible to take care of it. In the long run, this may not be a good idea. See if a friend wants your pet or talk to the local zoo or pet humane society for alternatives. It simply is not a good idea to release pets into the wild where they may become an invasive species.

© 2014 Cheryl_Jones

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