Invasive Species of the East Coast

With the continuous changes in the climatic conditions, all living organisms are undergoing adaptive processes to survive in their natural ecosystem. However, other organisms find it easy to migrate to a new ecosystem, which may favor their survival [1]. Invasive species can be termed as organisms that cause both economic and ecological harm/effects in their new environment. As they move into this new environment, invasive species have the ability to cause the extinction of native of florae and faunae, competition for limited resources, and also altering habitats for the native organisms [2].


East Coast refers to the areas that have a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean. The region is covered by fourteen States staring from Maine to Florida. There are more than one hundred invasive species along the East Coast of the United States of America [3]. These species can be divided into three major categories, i.e., Terrestrial species, which include; Garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, Burning bush, Norway maple, Japanese angelica tree, etc. Aquatic species which include European Water chestnut (Trapa natans), Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata); and insect species which include Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, and Spotted lanternfly.


Invasion species are usually successful in their new ecosystems since they can reproduce and grow rapidly. Another reason for the rapid growth of invasive species is the absence of their natural predators and pests in their new environment [4]. For the florae family, they have advance mechanisms of seed disposal. Thus they become challenging to control. Some of these mechanisms are aided by human activities such as mud transporting firewood; seed stuck to clothing. There ensure they are spread; thus, their reproduction is enhanced [5]. For the faunae family, especially the insect species, lay a large number of eggs to increase their chances of survival [6]. Through evolution, they have also altered the duration of their life cycle. Thus, they are more resistant to climatic changes in their new ecosystem.
There are a number of impacts of invasive species on the East Coast. These impacts can be grouped into two main categories, i.e., the economic impacts and the ecological impact. The most ecological impact is the widespread loss of habitat [4]. The presence of the invasion species results in the death of their prey as they invade in large numbers and lack predators. Thus, their number grows exponentially, resulting in overexploitation of their prey [1]. With the death of the prey, other species that depended entirely on the prey for food become extinct due to lack of food.


There is also an effect on human health due to invasive species. Some of these species cause plant disease. Some of these plants are a source of food for the surrounding population [3]. For instance, in Florida, Spotted lanternfly induces disease in the grapefruits; thus, when these fruits are consumed, individually develop health issues. Similarly, the states that border the East Coast spend billions of dollars annually in controlling these invasive species. For instance, it cost an estimated $1 billion for the United States government to fully recover from Formosan termite invasive [4]. Such expenses are economically destructive to a nation since it lowers economic growth.


The synergism, which results from the combination of genetic, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives on these species, is vital for the development of feasible solutions to the ecological and economic losses arising from these invasion species [5]. The United States federal government and the states along the East Coast have adopted various legislative measures to eradicate invasive species. For instance, the USDA has the responsibility of preventing the introduction of invasive species [4]. Other government agencies include the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program.


Since some human activities facilitate the spread of these invasive species, the US government and the State government along the East Coast have paid policies to control such human activates [1]. For instance, there exists a quarantine for firewood on the federal and state levels across the Eastern United States. This is the region of the East Coast. The quarantine is purposely for the control of emerald ash borer and other invasive species [4]. Other methods that have been employed to control these species include interference with reproduction, mechanical removal, chemical control, etc. The main challenge in controlling these species is their adaptive feature of genetic makeup variation [6]. They quickly adapt to an environment; thus, most methods fail to control them.


References

  1. M. Carman, J. A. Morris, R., Karney and D. W. Grunden, “An initial assessment of native and invasive tunicates in shellfish aquaculture of the North American east coast,” Journal of Applied Ichthyology, vol. 26, no. Supplement s2, p. 8—11, 2010.
  2. T. R. Gottwald, G. Hughes, J. H. Graham, X. Sun and T. Riley, “The Citrus Canker Epidemic in Florida: The Scientific Basis of Regulatory Eradication Policy for an Invasive Species,” Phytopathology, vol. 91, no. 1, p. 30—34, 2001.
  3. H. A. Mooney and E. E. Cleland, “The evolutionary impact of invasive species,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 98, no. 10, p. 5446—5451, 2001.
  4. USDA Forest Service, “Invasive Species,” USDA Forest Service, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=growth+and+development+of+invasive+spacies. [Accessed 08 November 2019]
  5. A. K. Sakai, F. W. Allendorf, J. S. Holt, D. M. Lodge, J. Molofsky, K. A. With, S. Baughman, R. J. Cabin, J. E. Cohen and N. C. Ellstrand, “The Population Biology of Invasive Species,” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, vol. 32, no. 1, p. 305—332, 2001.
  6. R. M. Hamner, D. W. Freshwater, and P. E. Whitfield, “Mitochondrial cytochrome b analysis reveals two invasive lionfish species with strong founder effects in the western Atlantic,” Journal of Fish Biology, vol. 71, no. Supplement sb, p. 214—222, 2007.
Invasive Species of the East Coast

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