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Biodiversity and the exotic species threatAuthor(s): Peter S. White
Source: In: Britton, Kerry O., ed. Exotic pests of eastern forests conference proceedings; 1997 April 8-10; Nashville, TN. U.S. Forest Service and Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council: 1-7.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (448.36 KB)
DescriptionExotic species invasions, called by one conservation biologist the "least reversible" of all human impacts, cause harm to economies (e.g., fisheries, wildlife populations, tourism), the environment (e.g., in the form of broadcast of pesticides and herbicides), human health and wellbeing (e.g., allergic responses and the increase in fire severity in some landscapes), and aesthetics (e.g., the amount of mortality in vegetation). These invasions threaten biological diversity by causing population declines of native species and by altering key ecosystem processes like hydrology, nitrogen fixation, and fire regime. The earth is essentially a loaded gun of exotic species problems because (1) evolution in isolation has produced continents with a similar range of environmental conditions but a very different array of species and (2) species generally have an ability for exponential increase, particularly when removed from natural controls on their population growth. As a result, the problem is a global one-the exotic species problem is neither trivial nor transitory. The human-caused mixing of formerly isolated biota stems from a failure to base decisions on the ecological and coevolutionary setting or organisms. We must employ many methods from our management tool box: eradication, containment, biocontrol, monitoring, and, most importantly, prevention.
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CitationWhite, Peter S. 1998. Biodiversity and the exotic species threat. In: Britton, Kerry O., ed. Exotic pests of eastern forests conference proceedings; 1997 April 8-10; Nashville, TN. U.S. Forest Service and Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council: 1-7.
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