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Technology'Landscape of fear': how invasive species disrupt habitats

11:15  06 june  2019
11:15  06 june  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Invasive species can dramatically reshape environments and cause extinction, even when they don't prey on their newfound neighbours, according to new research that highlights the dangers of altering habitats . The six-year study of lizards on a string of remote islands found that the arrival of a predator

Invasive species can dramatically reshape environments and cause extinction, even when they don't prey on their newfound neighbours, according to new A graphic on a six-year study in the Caribbean, carried out to see how the native brown anole population would cohabit with invasive species .

'Landscape of fear': how invasive species disrupt habitats© John SAEKI A six-year study of lizards on a string of remote Caribbean islands found that the arrival of a predator can create competition that can be devastating

Invasive species can dramatically reshape environments and cause extinction, even when they don't prey on their newfound neighbours, according to new research that highlights the dangers of altering habitats.

The six-year study of lizards on a string of remote islands found that the arrival of a predator can prompt species that previously co-existed peacefully to cluster in a shared refuge, creating competition that can be devastating.

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An invasive species is a species that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species ), and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment

Invasive Species : How They Affect the Environment. One consequence of globalization is that in addition to people and products moving across the Many other examples exist of invasive species hitching rides on cargo to enter new habitats . For example, the fungus known as chestnut blight

It challenges a long-standing theory that predators feeding on animals lower down the food chain prevent any one prey species from dominating a habitat, and so promote ecological diversity.

"Our results suggest that we need to update conventional wisdom in a few ways," said lead author Robert Pringle, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.

"We need to think about unexpected indirect impacts -- the species at greatest risk of extinction might not necessarily be those with the greatest risk of being eaten," he told AFP.

- A blank canvas -

Understanding how species co-exist is one of the biggest challenges in biology, not least because it is hard to find or create control environments for experimentation.

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H - Habitat destruction I - Invasive Species P - Pollution P - Population O - Over-Grazing. This common feedback example manifests just how closely related the proximate and underlying causes that disrupt by a dominant colonization of a particular habitat or wildlands area from loss of natural

Invasive species are non-native species that disrupt healthy ecosystem functions from the bottom up, causing a chain reaction which leaves nothing unaffected. Invasives such as zebra and quagga mussels, leafy spurge, Eurasian watermilfoil, yellow starthistle, bullfrogs, hydrilla, Asian carp, etc

But Pringle and his team found a solution in the form of a string of 16 islands in the Caribbean, home to an unassuming lizard known as the brown anole, which largely hunts on the ground and in low branches.

The islands provided the researchers with the perfect blank canvas to observe how the native brown anole population would react when different invasive species were introduced.

They examined four scenarios: a control group of islands where the native population was left alone, a group where the competitor tree-dwelling green anole was introduced, a group where a top predator called a curly-tailed lizard was introduced, and a group where both new species joined the native brown anoles.

The first test was to see if the ground-hunting brown and tree-dwelling green anoles could co-exist successfully.

The study found that was possible: the green anoles rapidly multiplied, and while the brown anole population didn't grow as much as on the control islands, it still expanded.

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Invasive species are among the leading threats to native wildlife. Learn about how they spread and how they threaten native wildlife in the United States. " Invasive species "—they may not sound very threatening, but these invaders, large and small, have devastating effects on wildlife.

Huge benefactors of disrupting ecosystems are invasive species . Invasive species are plants Recently, more of these species was found invading and threatening the ecosystem of Arkansas. One of the biggest questions of the Second World War is, how the amphibious invasion of Normandy

The introduction of the curly-tailed predator lizard -- a ground-dweller that can eat both the unfortunate brown anole and its prey -- saw the native population change behaviour.

Brown anoles took to the trees, leaving behind much of their usual hunting grounds to stay beyond the reach of the new arrivals. This meant the brown anole population did not grow, but the native lizard at least remained static.

- 'Landscape of fear' -

But the most interesting results of the research, published Thursday in the journal Nature, came from the final scenario, where all three lizards were forced to share the same habitat.

Under the existing theory, the curly-tailed lizard should have prevented either of the anoles from dominating and detente would have prevailed.

But in fact, brown anoles moved up into the trees to escape the predators and found themselves in competition with the green anoles, with dire results.

The brown anole population shrank more than 40 percent, and on two of the islands the green anoles went extinct. On a third their population was static and only on one did they grow moderately.

The population collapses came despite the fact that the curly-tailed lizards were rarely eating the anoles -- they were effectively driving themselves into extinction.

"The 'landscape of fear' created by the predator forces prey species into intense competition," Pringle said.

"Introducing a predatory species can cause the extinction of prey species that never even encounter the predator."

The research leaves some questions unanswered, including why the green anoles suffered more than the brown anoles in their refuge from the curly tailed predators.

And the islands have more to offer: having documented how brown anoles altered their habitat and diet to escape predators, the researchers now want to examine what evolutionary shifts these changes may have caused in the species.

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