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Impact of invasive species UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • In the midst of a sweltering summer, a stream long dormant in a tribal settlement within the Marayur sandal division in Idukki has sprung back to life after a hiatus of 30 years. 

  • This remarkable transformation is credited to an eco-restoration initiative spearheaded by the Forest department in the area during 2021-24.

  • The officials recount that the hills within the forest division of Kammalamkudi were once grasslands with active water streams until 1990.

  • Prior to the introduction of Acacia mearnsii (black wattle) in the region

  • In 1980, the government planted black wattle across approximately 500 hectares of land.

  • However, over time, the land became overrun by West Indian Lantana (Kongini) plants, inhibiting the growth of other exotic species and restricting access to animals.

Black wattle and West Indian Lantana

  • Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to southeastern Australia.

  • That has become invasive in many parts of the world, including India

  • It can form dense thickets that crowd out native plants and can also alter soil chemistry

  • Black wattle has yellow flower spikes that bloom in the spring.

Impact of invasive species

  • Invasive species wreak havoc on environments they are introduced to, causing a ripple effect of problems. 

Environmental Damage:

  • Loss of Biodiversity: Invasive species can outcompete native plants and animals for resources like food and space

  • This can lead to population decline and even extinction of native species, reducing biodiversity.

  • Habitat Alteration: Invasive plants can form dense monocultures, choking out native vegetation and changing the overall ecosystem structure. 

  • Invasive animals can alter predator-prey relationships and disrupt natural habitats.

  • Disrupted Food Webs: Invasive species can disrupt the delicate balance of food webs by preying on native species or becoming food sources that native predators haven't adapted to.

Economic Costs:

  • Agriculture Losses: Invasive species can damage crops, reduce yields, and spread diseases to agricultural plants.

  • Infrastructure Damage: Some invasive species, like zebra mussels, can clog water pipes and damage infrastructure.

  • Control Costs: Efforts to control invasive species can be expensive, requiring manpower, specialized equipment, and herbicides or pesticides.

Social Impacts:

  • Reduced Recreational Opportunities: Invasive plants can make areas less desirable for recreation by crowding out native plants and reducing scenic beauty.

  • Health Risks: Some invasive species can carry diseases or cause allergic reactions in humans.

Examples:

  • Kudzu vine: This fast-growing vine smothers native vegetation and can damage trees and buildings.

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: This invasive insect damages fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals, causing significant economic losses.

  • Burmese Python: These large snakes have become established in Florida and prey on native wildlife, including small mammals and birds.

  • Invasive species are a serious threat to our planet's ecosystems and economies

  • Efforts to prevent their introduction and control their spread are crucial for maintaining healthy environments.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Impact of invasive species UPSC NOTE
Impact of invasive species UPSC NOTE
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