According to a recent study, introduced animal species have caused billions of dollars in damage over the past few decades. Combating these invasive species and associated crop losses cost the global community about $17 billion between 1986 and 2020, according to a report by a team of scientists in the journal Scientific Reports.
Accordingly, the North American toad and brown tree snake are the biggest cost drivers among exotic animals. “The damage is very likely to be much greater,” estimates lead author Philip Hoebroek of the Gelnhausen chapter of the Senckenberg Nature Research Society in Frankfurt. He therefore proposes a significant increase in “measures to reduce the global transfer of invasive amphibians and reptiles” with more attention given to impending new invasions.
Invasive species can severely disrupt the biological balance in their new environment. Since there are often no predators there, they can spread almost unhindered. For example, the brown tree python was introduced to the western Pacific island of Guam, and it multiplied rapidly and exterminated many species of birds and small animals. This, in turn, has an effect on the island’s flora because birds are important for dispersal of seeds.
According to the Naturschutzbund Deutschland Nabu newspaper, the American toad has been kidnapped or actively domesticated around the world in order to get frog legs, for example. “In all new areas of presence, it is a major competitor to native amphibians and other animal species.”
For their study, the researchers said they evaluated numbers from the “InvaCost” database, which collects the economic costs of invading species. The data comes from peer-reviewed articles and documents on government, academic, and NGO websites. (apa/dpa)
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