New International Report warns: multiple negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity, human health and the economy
A new international report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), entitled ‘Invasive Alien Species and their Control’, describes the impacts of invasive alien species, animals, plants and microorganisms, on biodiversity, human health and the economy. The global cost of these impacts is estimated at $423 billion per year and is expected to continue to quadruple every decade. The report also highlights that 60% of the animals and plants that have become extinct globally are due to invasive alien species.
The report was prepared with the participation of 86 researchers from 49 countries, including Dr Angeliki Martinou, an entomologist at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Joint Services Health Unit at Akrotiri, and a research associate at the Cyprus Institute’s Centre of Excellence for Climate and Atmosphere Research (CARE-C).
Alien invasive species, as referred to in the study, are organisms that are transported to new locations outside their natural range, unintentionally or intentionally, through human activities. It is estimated that there are 37 000 alien species worldwide, of which around 3 500 are invasive. The introduction of these invasive species into new areas has negative impacts on the biodiversity of the area concerned, as well as on ecosystem services, sustainable development, and human health.
According to research by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Joint Services Health Unit, around 1270 alien species have been recorded in Cyprus, some of which are invasive (https://ris-ky.info/cydas).
Particular emphasis should be placed on studying the impact of invasive alien species, as these, in combination with climate change and urbanisation, can have a particularly devastating impact on the island’s biodiversity and natural protected areas, or even lead to the extinction of endemic species that are unique to Cyprus.
In particular, some of the alien invasive species that may pose a threat to Cyprus’ biodiversity are the acacia tree, the myna bird, the swamp crayfish, the mosquitofish, the small fire ant, the lionfish, the silver-cheeked toadfish and many others.
The IPBES report also stresses the importance of studying the impact of invasive alien species on human health. For example, the yellow fever mosquito or the Asian tiger mosquito, recently established in Cyprus, carry pathogens that can cause diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever or Zika virus, while invasive alien species can also pose a threat to agricultural production, with implications for the economy.
The report recommends ways to manage the problem, such as the implementation of management plans for the control or eradication of invasive alien species by relevant stakeholders. Better information of citizens about invasive alien species is extremely important, as is their involvement in their identification, as prevention and early detection of these species in case of importation is usually the only way to combat them successfully. Finally, the report stresses the need for further study to understand the impact of invasive alien species on the natural environment and to calculate the costs of their management.
Dr Angeliki Martinou, Entomologist at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Health Unit at Akrotiri, and Research Associate at the Cyprus Institute’s Centre of Excellence for Climate and Atmospheric Research (CARE-C).
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More information about the study: https://www.ipbes.net/IASmediarelease?fbclid=IwAR2ZxDcsLsv5fWvC-gHcf-G0Vub-0RVCR_NAtHp-AvSvz15PBhw4KvGEjac