An invasive species is a plant, fungus, or animal species that is not native to a specific location and which has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health.
While all species compete to survive, invasive species appear to have
specific traits or specific combinations of traits that allow them to
outcompete native species.
In some cases, the competition is about rates of growth and
reproduction. In other cases, species interact with each other more
Common invasive species traits include the following:
- Fast growth
- Rapid reproduction
- High dispersal ability
- Phenotypic plasticity (the ability to alter growth form to suit current conditions)
- Tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions
- Ability to live off of a wide range of food types
Invasive species can change the functions of ecosystems. For example, invasive plants can alter the fire regimen, nutrient cycling, and hydrologyin native ecosystems. Invasive species that are closely related to rare native species have the
potential to hybridize with the native species. Harmful effects of
hybridization have led to a decline and even extinction of native
Biotic invasion is considered one of the five top drivers for global biodiversity loss and is increasing because of tourism and globalization.