A paper from a Twin Cities professor calls on us to rethink our negative views of “invasive species.”
Some of our negative views about the species are informed by warnings like this one from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota’s natural resources are threatened by invasive species such as the zebra mussel, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, gypsy moth, and garlic mustard. These species, along with new invasive species, could be easily spread within the state if citizens, businesses, and visitors don’t take necessary steps to contain them.
Considering the harm these species can do to our environment and the challenge of raising public awareness to stop the spread of these species, it seems like urging tolerance and understanding of non-native species could be a bit misguided.
But Mark Davis, professor with Macalester College, argues that our simplistic nativism perspective that is based on a black and white reading of native species are good, non-natives are bad has had too much influence among conservationists.
“Scientists who malign introduced plants and animals for thriving under favorable conditions seem to be disregarding basic ecological and evolutionary principles,” say Matthew Chew, an ecologist and historian of invasion biology, and Julie Stromberg, a plant ecologist, with Arizona State University. “Evaluating whether a species ‘belongs’ in a particular place is more complicated than just finding out how and when it arrived.”
Scientific studies show that while some introduced species have resulted in extinctions, not all natives are beneficial, as in the example of the Pine Bark beetle, which is decimating North American pine forests (Physorg).