Biological invasions ‘may be more damaging than natural disasters’

April 3rd, 2011 - 5:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 3 (ANI): Biological invasions get less attention than natural disasters, but can be more economically damaging, according to biologists.

Anthony Ricciardi of McGill University and his colleagues said that species invasions are becoming more frequent worldwide, largely because of international trade.

Although many alien species establish themselves in a new location without causing harm, the worst biological invasions may cause multiple extinctions of native species.

When the Nile perch invaded Africa’s Lake Victoria, it contributed to the extinction of 200 fish species.

And such invasions can also have huge financial impacts - the destruction of ash trees by the emerald ash borer is predicted to cost the US 10 billion dollars over the next decade.

The researchers said hazard-reduction plans such as vulnerability reduction practices, rapid response and assessment, and systems for sharing of information and coordination among authorities could minimize the impacts of biological invasions, and at a cost that is low relative to the cost of a major event.

They point to New Zealand, which has passed legislation to coordinate management of threats to its biodiversity and natural resources under a central authority.

The finding appears in the April issue of BioScience. (ANI)

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