Invasive species are thriving as a result of climate change and warmer temperatures, as revealed in recent studies.
Here are five of the invasive species identified in recent studies, along with how they affect US ecosystems.
Climate Change and Invasive Species in the US
In the United States, rising temperatures are facilitating a better chance of survival of some invasive species, which also results in the expansion of their habitats.
As a result, the threat to native wildlife populations and ecosystems has increased as more invasive species have spread across the country.
Five non-native species that like warmer conditions and have the potential to spread include the Burmese python, feral swine, Japanese beetle, hammerhead worm, and spotted lanternfly.
#1 Burmese Pythons in Florida
(Photo : Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
5 Invasive Species: #1 Burmese Python in Florida
Burmese pythons, not native to Florida, are moving north in the state, as revealed in a recent study.
Though Florida boasts diverse snake species, Burmese pythons, imported as exotic pets in 1979, are not among the native ones.
Scientists have observed them as far north as Lake Okeechobee, with expectations of further expansion over the next decade. This raises safety concerns for residents, even though most of the snakes will remain in natural habitats.
The snakes, originally from warmer regions like India and China, easily adapted to South Florida and could potentially extend their range northward if the state’s climate warms.
Effect on the Ecosystem: The Everglades and its vicinity have suffered significant damage with regards to their ecosystem and species because, since the introduction of the snakes, several wildlife populations all across the Everglades have seen declines in their population with the Burmese python being an apex predator.
#2 Feral Swine or Wild Hogs in 75% of the US
(Photo : Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons)
5 Invasive Species: #2 Feral Swine or Wild Hogs in 75% of the US. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This applies worldwide.
Warmer weather has contributed to the growth of feral swine populations, as a recent study shows that their abundant food sources persist due to milder or warmer winters.
These invasive pigs were introduced in the Americas in the 1500s and now inhabit over 75% of the US, causing approximately $1.5 billion in annual damages.
The invasive pigs, which are also known as wild hogs or feral swine, have already exceeded 9 million in population.
Effect on the Ecosystem: Feral swine has been causing rapid decline in 300 US native species, including those already at risk, per Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Feral hogs carry over 40 parasites, and 30 illnesses, and can transmit diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis to humans, livestock, and animals.
#3 Japanese Beetles New Jersey Among Other States
(Photo : Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org / Wikimedia Commons)
5 Invasive Species: #3 Japanese Beetles New Jersey Among Other States. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States license.
The infestation of the Japanese beetle has been substantially facilitated by climate change, which ushered in higher temperatures.
A recent study projects a range expansion into North America for the Japanese beetle if temperatures continue to climb, with the invasive species possibly reaching Canada.
In 1916, New Jersey reported the first sighting of Japanese beetles in the US and since then, warmer temperatures and a lack of natural predators have contributed to the range expansion of the invasive beetle to the majority of states located on the east of the Mississippi River.
Effect on the Ecosystem: Japanese beetles, destructive plant pests, pose control challenges. They target 300+ plants, costing over $460 million annually to combat both larvae and adults.
#4 Hammerhead Worms in most of the US
(Photo : Jean-Lou Justine, Leigh Winsor, Delphine Gey, Pierre Gros, and Jessica Thévenot / Wikimedia Commons)
5 Invasive Species: #4 Hammerhead Worms in most of the US. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
According to a recent study, rising temperatures may create ideal circumstances for the spread of hammerhead worms. Warm climates and moist soil are preferred by hammerhead worms.
Hammerhead worms are progressively spreading across the US, although they are native to Southeast Asia and favor the country’s hotter climes.
Effect on the Ecosystem: In addition to having an odd appearance and perhaps appearing in the garden, hammerhead worms release poisons that can be harmful to people or animals.
Also, because earthworms, which are crucial for soil health and agricultural growth, are eaten by hammerhead worms, the quick growth and spread of the invasive hammerhead worms under favorable climatic conditions possibly compromise the quality of the soil.
#5 Spotted Lanternfly in 17 States Northeast
(Photo : Walthery / Wikimedia Commons)
5 Invasive Species: #5 Spotted Lanternfly in 17 States Northeast. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
Warming temperatures will expand the habitats and boost the population growth of the spotted lanternfly, as shown in a recent study.
This pest can reproduce multiple times annually, irrespective of seasonal temperature fluctuations, leading to rapid population growth. It has infested 17 Northeastern states since its suspected arrival on a stone shipment from China in 2012.
Effect on the Ecosystem: By 2033, the spotted lanternfly may spread to California’s grape-growing counties, endangering the beer and wine industries. The lanternflies also harm hardwood trees, hop crops, and apple trees.
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