Can re-introducing native animal predators to a habit at put a check on invasive species? A new study by QueenUniversity Belfast and Cornell University suggests the answer is “yes”!
One of the greatest threats that biodiversity faces comes from invasive species. Such species are the main cause behind the extinction of many animals over the last century, which in turn harms the functioning of the ecosystem. These problems come with a price tag, too. Experts believe that issues caused by invasive species cost an estimated $162 billion a year.
The Queen University study found that restoring the population of native predators can balance the equation and decrease numbers of invasive species. How? The evolutionary unpreparedness of invasive species to native predators, along with the lack of spatial refuge, puts them at a disadvantage. This holds true for a wide variety of invasive species in different parts of the world.
For instance, the reintroduction of the native pine marten in the UK and Ireland resulted in a reduction in the overabundant numbers of gray squirrels. Other reintroductions include the Eurasian lynx to help reduce the population of Ireland’s sika deer, a species that harms trees and contributes to spreading bacterial diseases; and the Florida panther, to control the invasive and destructive feral pig population in that state.