Michigan Backyard Paradise

What is a non-native or alien species?

Alien or non-native species are plants and animals introduced by or relating to activities carried out by humans. They are brought over on purpose and by accident. Non-natives have not evolved with their surroundings and if the conditions are right, can be very destructive by pushing out native populations. This can disrupt the balance and threaten bio-diversity of both plants and animals living in an area. Much is said about toxic waste, endangered species and genetically modified foods but another type of pollution you don’t hear as much about are these “alien” invasions which can have long term consequences and can cost more over time if not addressed in the early stages.

Many introductions that naturalize do not bring about much harm and can be controlled while others cause a lot of damage. Two examples of animal invasives currently in the news are the silver and bighead carp also known as asian carp, which are now threatening to enter the great lakes.

It was really surprising to see how many plants originated from Europe and Asia when going through field guides and the internet to try to identify pictures. Our landscape has really changed in the last 300 years. Many of the settlers that came to the north-eastern part or the U.S., which we now call New England, truly wanted to create another England. Many brought over plants that had reminded them of their homeland. That is when the steady succession of plant introductions began. With the rise of globalization and an increased number of imports to this country, invasive species are a larger danger to the environment than ever before.

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