How do invasive species affect food webs and ecosystem services?
Invasive species are organisms that colonise and spread into alien areas, damaging the local ecosystem. These species can have significant impacts on food webs and ecosystem services.
Influencing food webs
The introduction of invasive species can create new food web connections that can alter the structure and function of the original ecosystem. Invasive species often compete with native species for resources and may suppress or displace them. This changes the dynamics of the food web, and invasive species may become the dominant food sources or predators.
Invasive species can also affect the stability of food webs. If an invasive species becomes too abundant, the pressure on the native species may increase and their population may decrease. This can cause gaps and imbalances in the food web, which can have negative long-term effects on the ecosystem.
Affecting ecosystem services
Invasive species can have significant impacts on ecosystem services that provide important benefits to human society. Invasive species have the potential to alter ecosystem functions and can reduce or even eliminate them.
For example, if an invasive plant species spreads through an area, it may displace native plants in competition with them and reduce the biodiversity of the natural vegetation. This reduces the services that natural habitats provide, such as soil conservation, water filtration or carbon sequestration.
Invasive species can also affect ecosystem services through changes in food webs. If an invasive predator species becomes overly abundant, the population of native prey species can decline, which can have negative effects on fishing or hunting.
Invasive species can therefore pose a serious threat to food webs and ecosystem services. The prevention and management of such species is a priority for sustainable ecosystems and the future of human society.∑: species, invasive, ecosystem, services, native, affect, significant, impacts, displace