Invasive species threaten ecosystems according to new report

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. detrimental / ˌdɛ trəˈmɛn tl / (adj.) – causing harm or damage

    Climate change has a detrimental effect on agriculture.

  2. alien / ˈeɪ li ən / (adj.) – coming from another country or region

    I live in a diverse neighborhood. Many alien residents live around my house.

  3. livelihood / ˈlaɪv liˌhʊd / (n.) – a way of earning money to pay for food, housing, clothing, etc.

    The drought has severely affected the livelihoods of farmers in the country.

  4. devour / dɪˈvaʊ ər / (v.) – to eat or consume something in large amounts until nothing is left

    The pests devoured the entire field of corn last year. Nothing was left during the harvest.

  5. unwitting / ʌnˈwɪt ɪŋ / (adj.) – not planned or not intended to happen

    Employees who use their personal devices for work can make unwitting mistakes that may expose their company to cybersecurity issues.


Read the text below.

Scientists have been checking records dating back decades to examine how the spread of wildlife around the globe is having an impact on existing ecosystems.

They say 3,500 of the species that have invaded new environments are detrimental. In 2019, they found that spreading insects, marine animals, and other species into new habitats was one of the top drivers of biodiversity loss.

Professor Peter Stoett, the report’s co-author and Dean of Ontario Tech University’s Social Sciences, says the harmful impact of the invasion of alien species can be seen during the catastrophic wildfires in Hawaii in August.

He says: “There’s a very, of course, unfortunate case, right now where in Hawaii with the terrible fires that we’ve seen, this has been linked to the proliferation of some African grasses that have grown there and which are used to a different fire regime, meaning that they grow, they burn, they grow, they burn very quickly. And this, we think, has contributed along with climate change and extreme weather, to the horrendous fires that we saw.”

“Many local landscapes that we consider natural, in fact, are not in the sense that alien species have populated them and we’ve lived with them for years. And in fact, many of us eat species that are alien species every day, right? It’s quite difficult. The problem is the level of invasion that’s occurring and the significant impacts that it’s having on the economies, on livelihoods, and even on culture,” says Stoett.

Hordes of ‘blue crabs’ from the western Atlantic have invaded Italy’s coast, threatening the country’s marine ecosystem and its role as one of the world’s top clam producers. Arriving on ships from the Atlantic and benefiting from climate change, the crabs have put Italy’s clam, mussel, and oyster producers in crisis, devouring or damaging over 50% of production.

Stoett says the greatest concern is how the phenomenon is leading to the extinction of whole species and cultures. Researchers say most of the spread is unwitting, driven by international shipping, whether by sea, train, or air.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think biodiversity loss is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How do you think people would be able to address biodiversity loss? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What types of livelihood in your country do you think can be harmed by invasive species? Is there a raised awareness in your country about the harmful effects of invasive species? What makes you say so? Discuss.
  • What do you think is a big threat to your country’s ecosystems (ex. urbanization, illegal wildlife trade)? Discuss.