The threat of invasive species – Jennifer Klos


Massive vines that blanket
the southern United States, climbing as high as 100 feet as they
uproot trees and swallow buildings. A ravenous snake that is capable of
devouring an alligator. Rabbit populations that eat
themselves into starvation. These aren’t horror movie concepts. They’re real stories, but how could such situations
exist in nature? All three are examples
of invasive species, organisms harmful not because
of what they are, but where they happen to be. The kudzu vine, for example, had grown quality in its native east Asia,
eaten by various insects and dying off during the cold winters. But its fortunes changed when it was imported
into the southeastern United States for porch decoration and cattle feed. Its planting was even subsidized
by the government to fight soil erosion. With sunny fields, a mild climate,
and no natural predators in its new home, the vine grew uncontrollably until it became known as the plant
that ate the South. Meanwhile in Florida’s Everglades,
Burmese pythons, thought to have been released
by pet owners, are the cause of decreasing populations
of organisms. They’re successfully outcompeting
top predators, such as the alligator and panther, causing a significant reduction
in their food sources. They’re not a problem
in their native Asia because diseases, parasites, and predators
help to control their population size. And in Australia, European rabbits
eat so many plants that they wipe out the food supply
for themselves and other herbivores. They’re a pretty recent addition, intentionally introduced to the continent
because one man enjoyed hunting them. Like the Burmese pythons, various factors in their native habitat
keep their numbers in control. But in Australia, the lack of predators and a climate perfect
for year-long reproduction allows their populations to skyrocket. So why does this keep happening? Most of the world’s ecosystems are the result of millennia
of coevolution by organisms, adapting to their environment
and each other until a stable balance is reached. Healthy ecosystems maintain this balance
via limiting factors, environmental conditions that restrict
the size or range of a species. These include things
like natural geography and climate, food availability, and the presence or absence of predators. For example, plant growth depends
on levels of sunlight and soil nutrients. The amount of edible plants affects
the population of herbivores, which in turn impacts the carnivores
that feed on them. And a healthy predator population keeps
the herbivores from becoming too numerous and devouring all the plants. But even minor changes in one factor
can upset this balance, and the sudden introduction
of non-native organisms can be a pretty major change. A species that is evolved
in a separate habitat will be susceptible to different
limiting factors, different predators, different energy sources, and different climates. If the new habitat’s limiting factors
fail to restrict the species growth, it will continue to multiply, out-competing native organisms
for resources and disrupting the entire ecosystem. Species are sometimes introduced
into new habitats through natural factors, like storms, ocean currents, or climate shifts. The majority of invasive species,
though, are introduced by humans. Often this happens unintentionally, as when the zebra mussel was accidentally
brought to Lake Erie by cargo ships. But as people migrate around the world, we have also deliberately brought
our plants and animals along, rarely considering the consequences. But now that we’re learning more about the effects of invasive species
on ecosystems, many governments closely monitor
the transport of plants and animals, and ban the imports of certain organisms. But could the species with
the most drastic environmental impact be a group of primates who emerged
from Africa to cover most of the world? Are we an invasive species?

100 thoughts on “The threat of invasive species – Jennifer Klos

  1. I love how we worry about all of these animals when really we are the worlds most invasive species.

  2. WE ARE THE MOST INVASIVE SPECIES EVER INVASIVE EVER EXISTED

  3. They need to introduce invasive animal species to poor countries, hunger problem immediately solved.

  4. This is nice ted ed after being so serious about animals and plants just after the video we realize that we are the top one invasive species hahaha

  5. send we chinese…. we turn any invasive species to dishes. in five years, they will be extinct species. 😀 😀 😀

  6. I totally didnt look this up cause i wanted to introduce fish into a Private lake of mine

  7. First of all, the animation and art in this episode is absolutely beautiful.
    Second of all, I never expected to hear the line "in Australia, the lack of predators…"

  8. “A ravines snake that can swallow an alligator”

    “But that’s not horror movie material”

    Me: BISH YES IT IS

  9. You know what? I am done with these things humans do. Just stop

  10. Introduce foxes to kill the rabbits
    Introduce tigers to kill the pythons
    Introduce insects to kill the vines
    Problem solved

  11. What about NZ we have not natural predators and a very delicate eco system and bam here come the Europeans and suddenly most of the native species are endangered thanks to wild cats and dogs so we have some amazingly strick border control I'll tell you

  12. If there are invasive species, then put their corresponding predators to the country as well… Put some lions or hyenas or wild dogs in Australia as well..!! It's parteyy time!! 😍

  13. Because humans are the greatest invasive species we have today. Other invasive animals wouldn't be transported to other country if it would have been because of us.

  14. First of all we should not call them Invasive Species as we are the ones who (Sometimes accidentally) make them invasive to a particular place… So…..

  15. Yes we are, we are an invasive species that help other invasive species with a little thing added called building

  16. yes, i think that we are an invasive species. i think that because of a couple reasons like us bringing other invasive species to other places, building cities out instead of up (there is a video from the channel MinuteEarth called "How to Build a Better City", putting out wild fires so then next time there is a wild fire it will have more fuel, and so on. but at the same time i dont think that there should not be humans in the first place.

  17. I really recommend the book ‘The New Wild’ by Fred Pearce for anybody interested in non-native species. I originally came across it during my first year of Ecology and it presents a fascinating and solid argument why non-native species may be the saviours of biodiversity in the Anthropocene. It also works to smash through age-old established concepts in ecology and conservation that are just accepted as fact now, despite their foundations being shaky at best.

  18. Lack of predators, no wonder why human species boost population in billions in short time.

  19. We are the very definition of invasive species. It is the greatest advantage and disadvantage that evolution bestowed upon us.

  20. In other words, it's mostly our fault. Further, the actions we take to then mitigate these bad choices often present the potential to make the situation even worse. For example, the recent systematic release of a viral homographic disease to reduce the number of rabbits in areas where they are invasive that is not only extremely lethal, but highly persistent in many different environments…while sensible in a localized environment if it can be contained to that environment and remains in current form (and of course RNA viruses have NEVER mutated…), we're betting on some pretty big IFs…

  21. A really good example of this is the increasing population of hippos in Columbia . Pablo Escobar brought in hippos from Africa for his private zoo. The hippo population Excel in the tropical climate and are spreading uncontrollably

  22. COSTS AND EXAMPLES OF EXOTIC INTRUSION

    FAILURE AT THE BORDER, THE CAST OF CHARACTERS AND THE COSTS http://americanadmiraltybooks.blogspot.com/2013/07/costs-and-examples-of-exotic-intrusion.html

  23. Zebra mussels were the only animals able to live in Lake Erie after it had become too polluted for native species. In general invasive species take over when ecosystems have already been degraded due to some human activity like overgrazing, pollution or overhunting. Invasive species most of the times fill the gap so created, they are not outcompeting native species. And in most cases nature finds a new balance and in fact biodiversity increases.

  24. Half way through the video I thought like we the humans are the most dangerous invasive species. And at the end you said that

  25. Everybody nowadays knows the story of Escobar's hippos. The king of narcos imported many exotic animals from all over the world just for the sake of having them in his mansion. But whereas hippos in Africa grow in a harsh condition that has kept them for overreproducing, in Colombia, where there are no draughts the hippos proliferated and currently are a major problem in the area. Another example of invasive species.

  26. Yes, you humans are the most invasive species in the world. Luckily, I’m a wolf

  27. Again why people are not being listed as an invasive species

  28. Something people are doing are eating the invasive species in the non native area. Like Lionfish are being eaten a lot in Florida, and other Gulf States.

    People should eat Burmese Pythons IN Florida and Rabbits in Australia

  29. Santa Maria feverfew is the worst invasive plant species inserted by usa into india with very high economical and environmental destruction why wont any one make a video on it.

  30. Humans:Invasive animals are dangerous and life threatening to other species

    Every other organism: Ya think?

  31. Humans : Are we an invasive species ?
    Aliens in Area 51 : Say no more Fam !

  32. Native species do that too! But blame to just invaders! How narrowing the concepts!

  33. When people get mad at people hunting small game/rabbits, they don't realize how quickly they reproduce, and how many there are. Time for some loin and leg dinner!

  34. God save you if you try to sneak in rabbits to Australia
    Declare or Beware

    -Message from Australian customs and border protection

  35. Our entire economy is based on the fact that we're scavengers… look at the bargains at the thrift store… lol

  36. I find it bs that a python could beat an alligator population so bad, that they are being endangered and the panther population

  37. No we're not invasive. You can't be invasive, if you're species is all around the world. We're just destructive.

  38. Xenophobic nonsense. Invasive species is a huge misnomer, implying these species have solely negative effects on their ecosystems. 99% of these are more appropriately called pests or weeds, because they are primarily unwanted species by humans because of their effect on us and our economy. Unbiased studies have found that most so-called invasive species mainly inhabit disturbed areas created by humans, from development, pollution, and managed environments like timber forests and agricultural fields, and tend to have net positive effects on these ecosystems, although effects of people attempting to eradicate them have even further negative effects. A good example is the imported fire ant, which was spread by attempts to use pesticides to eradicate them, killing native ants, based on a flawed study that found a negative correlation between shorebird nest hatch rates and proximity to fire ant mounds. It was initially assumed that the fire ants were causing the reduced clutch sizes, but it turned out that pesticides being sprayed on ant mounds was causing the observed effect. An ecologist cannot objectively distinguish a native species from an exotic species. This hype is being pushed by herbicide companies who want people to use them in our forests and wild lands. Don't be fooled!

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