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Introduced species: A significant component of human-caused global change

July 16, 1997

Biological invasions are a widespread and significant component of human-caused global environmental change. The extent of invasions of oceanic islands, and their consequences for native biological diversity, have long been recognized. However, invasions of continental regions also are substantial. For example, more than 2,000 species of alien plants are established in the continental United States. These invasions represent a human-caused breakdown of the regional distinctiveness of Earth's flora and fauna—a substantial global change in and of itself. Moreover, there are well- documented examples of invading species that degrade human health and wealth, alter the structure and functioning of otherwise undisturbed ecosystems, and/or threaten native biological diversity. Invasions also interact synergistically with other components of global change. notably land use change. People and institutions working to understand, prevent, and control invasions are carrying out some of the most important—and potentially most effective—work on global environmental change.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1997
Title Introduced species: A significant component of human-caused global change
Authors Peter M. Vitousek, Carla M. D'Antonio, Lloyd L. Loope, Marcel Rejmanek, Randy G. Westbrooks
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title New Zealand Journal of Ecology
Index ID 70179328
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center