Species Introductions

The introduction of exotic species has been responsible for great perturbations in many ecosystems. The arrival of predators, competitors, pests, and pathogens has caused decreases in populations of native species in many areas. Native or endemic species often occupy narrow ranges, have small population sizes, and lack defenses, all of which make them vulnerable to species introductions. The arrival of alien species is generally a more serious problem on islands, especially remote islands than in continental areas. For example, dramatic changes have occurred on the Hawaiian islands as a result of species introductions since human colonization. Although introductions may increase local diversity, most colonizers are cosmopolitan and are not endangered, whereas many endemic species are potentially threatened. Ultimately, many local ecosystem types may be lost worldwide, leading to a more homogenous global biota.

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