South Georgia Is Free of Invasive Species After 200 Years

Invasive species can drastically alter ecosystems and drive other species to extinction. When the British claimed the shore of the Antarctic islands of South Georgia in 1775, he introduced rats and mice to the area. The rodents discovered a new delicacy that they did not find back in the British Isles—seabird chicks. The birds had not been preyed upon in such a manner and found it difficult to adapt, leaving some close to extinction.

In 2011, the South Georgia Heritage Trust dropped hundreds of tons of poisoned bait for the rodents to take back to their burrows. In 2017, two years after dropping the last round of poison, researchers returned to look for traces of remaining rodents. By the end of the year, rats and mice were eradicated from South Georgia. For the first time in over 200 years, the native seabirds are thriving again.

To prevent another devastating scenario like South Georgia’s, there is information you need to know to prevent the spread of invasive species.

What Are Invasive Species?

Any species can be invasive if it is not native to an area and causes harm to the existing ecosystem. The species can be mammals, plants, amphibians, bacteria, insects, or any other organism you can think of. Because the local species are likely unable to fight off a newcomer, invasive species can reproduce quickly and cause harm.

They cause harm when they compete with native species for food. If the native one is not getting enough food because the invasive one is eating all of it, the native species will start dying out or spread to new areas. This can quickly disrupt neighboring ecosystems as well. They can also cause harm by bringing diseases that the native species cannot fight off. Some invasive plants can change the chemistry of the soil too.

How Do They Spread?

Oftentimes, invasive species spread unintentionally. People are able to travel around the world quickly, and the smallest species can catch a ride to another part of the world without hassle. They can catch on to ships, shoes, cars, and any other item that travels.

Some people will also intentionally release pets into the wild, which can disrupt the ecosystem. Instances like this are the reason why Burmese pythons are currently a problem in the Everglades.

Another example of an invasive species is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. They are native to China and Japan, but travelers brought them to the United States in the 1990’s. They reproduce quickly, infest people’s homes, and eat many home and garden plants.

How Can We Prevent the Spread?

There are a few ways that you can prevent the spread of invasive species. It mostly involves being aware and taking precautions beforehand.

  • Plant native plants in your garden and learn to identify invasive species.
  • Clean your shoes, boats, tires, and any other equipment any time you visit a new area.
  • When camping, do not bring your own firewood because it may be housing unwanted guests.

These are just a few things you can do, but it will make a difference.

Image Source: Pixabay

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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