More than 210 invasive alien species have been documented in the wild within the Dutch Caribbean. These species can have major ecological effects by decimating native flora or fauna. They can also cause large economic losses and impact human health. Over the next few weeks, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) will publish several articles on “invasive alien species” to help provide context to this complex issue.
Invasive alien species are animals and plants introduced by human activity – deliberately or accidentally – to a natural environment outside their native range. Invasive species can have severe environmental, economic, and social impacts to their new areas. Environmentally, invasive species can be determinantal to local flora and fauna by preying on native species, outcompeting native species for food or other resources, causing, or carrying diseases, and preventing native species from reproducing. Consequently, they can have negative economic impacts on the agriculture, tourism, fishery and industry sectors. Invasive species can also bring new pathogens which can have a societal impact by making people sick or lead to outbreaks which can affect travel to these areas. The most recent examples include Chikungunya, Zika and West Nile Viruses, all which were introduced from exotic invasive mosquitoes.
Many scientific studies have shown that alien invasive species are one of the major causes of biodiversity loss globally and that island ecosystems are especially vulnerable. This is due to the islands’ small size (with small plant and animal populations), unique species, relatively large borders that are difficult to control and a small human population lacking the necessary capacity and resources.
Check out the articles below to learn more: