Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Learning to love invasive species

Not every invasive species is bad; witness the outcry over the decline of invasive honeybees. Can we look past the horror stories and calls for eradication and find a reasoned view on invasions?

The new science of conciliation biology aims to find means to understand and manage invaded ecosystems when invasive species bring value.

Can such heresy survive? Is this a quirky, contrarian view that belongs in a small box along with climate change deniers and flat-earthers? Some biologists with more purist leanings find reasons to object, although even critics admit that it may be time to stop trying to eradicate aliens simply because they're alien.

We may see more open-minded consideration of invasive species in the future, as ocean acidification and climate change threaten ecosystem functions. Perhaps we'll come to rely on and even love invaders that replace the functions of keystone species lost to global change.

2 comments:

Milo said...

Honestly?

It would be like learning to love anthropic climate change saying that we would be able to cultivate wheat in Siberia..

But the idea is not entirely new. Conservationists have always had to bow to economic pressures, some alien species get to be valuable and therefore untouchable.
In this new perspective they're just trying to turn the cards in a battle they couldn't and cannot win (restoration).

John Carroll said...

I did a post about invasives having positive effects over on my blog! http://coz.southernfriedscience.com/?p=498

I agree that not every invasive is bad - and that the negative connotation associated with these species is a little overblown. There are certainly problem species, no doubt, but there are plenty of examples in recent literature of facilitation of native species by these invaders.