The Eye Of The Beholder : Do Biological Invasions Impact Ecosystems On A Functional Level?

1782 Words Dec 30th, 2014 8 Pages
In the eye of the beholder: Do biological invasions impact ecosystems on a functional level? Biological invasions are generally considered an environmental threat, out competing native species and increasing community homogenisation. Importantly though, invasive species also alter ecosystems, yet little research has focused on whether invasions are a threat to their functioning or services. This encompasses two main debates: determining whether invasive species alter ecosystem functioning and, if they do, whether these impacts are positive or negative. After reviewing current literature in an effort to resolve this controversy, it seems that in most cases, non-native species do alter ecosystem functioning. However, whether this change had a net benefit or cost to the environment seemed to depend on the conservation or scientific perspective. An invasive species that intensifies a functional role in a community may enhance services we rely on, but lead to further loss of native species, causing a negative conservation impact. To effectively manage invasive species, there is a real need for more data on how biological invasions will impact ecosystem functioning, for a variety of essential processes.
A novel ecosystem occurs when species are found in previously unseen combinations1, often through the addition of non-natives; from alien species, introduced through human actions, to invasive species, alien species able to sustain populations over several life cycles2. By 2006,…

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