Aliens from Planet Earth

Posted: 9 March 2001

Invasive species are now one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of the planet. Throughout history rats, cats, and all sorts of other non-native species have been spread by humans - often with disasterous consequences for indigenous wildlife. But the globalisation of commerce and travel has accelerated the process.

The trees in New York's Central Park are threatened by the Asian Long-Horned beetle and in Scotland's Orkney islands, the usually innocuous hedgehog, is playing havoc with the ground-nesting bird populations. But as more becomes known about the complexities of invasive species, scientists are rising to the challenge. After hundreds of years of occupation, rats are now being systematically eradicated from the finely balanced island ecology of the Seychelles.

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