Thursday, June 9, 2011

Non-native species... beneficial?

Wired has posted a story about a new view of non-native species. With a few exceptions (Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes and Brown Tree snakes in Guam), the focus is looking at non-native species in the same way as evolution, at least that's how I took it.

“Most human and natural communities now consist both of long-term residents and of new arrivals,” they wrote. “We must embrace the fact of ‘novel ecosystems.’”

Honestly, how are people any different? I haven't read enough about this theory to make a call yet, but rules like quarantine for animals coming to Australia without a similar one for people (who are literally petri dishes in some cases) does seem biased. The article states a few specific examples where a formally invasive (non-native) species have been recategorized as actually benefiting native fauna and flora. I think the thing to take away from this is, the proponents of this view want to abandon the idea that all non-native species are automatically bad for the introduced area's environment. Yes there are definitely some that are, but its possible that others can be seen as a progression and even a benefit.

From Wired:
Many other ecologists, however, were dismayed by the essay. David Pimentel of Cornell University said many invasive benefits are indeed recognized: Ecologists hardly complain about corn and other non-native crop plants. He said Davis and colleagues cherry-picked their examples.

Honestly, click the link. Very good read.

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