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Researchers Map Hotspots Of Alien Plant And Animal Species

13 June 2017, 9:12 am EDT By Steve Bowman Tech Times
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Researchers conducted the first analysis ever to determine our planet's global hotspots where existence of alien plants and animals is the greatest.

Alien plants and animals are those living beings which become established outside their original natural environment. They settle in locations where they have never been found historically.

The latest study determined those places in the world where the prevalence of alien life forms is the greatest. The researchers reveal that the maximum alien species were found in the North Island of New Zealand, Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands, and the Hawaiian Islands.

Global Hotspots Of Alien Plant and Animal Species: Where Are They?

A group of researchers from Durham University studied the data from eight distinct groups including ants, amphibians, freshwater fish, birds, spiders, reptiles, mammals, and vascular plants. The analysis spanned 423 mainland regions and 186 island locations. However, they noticed that alien life forms were mostly seen in highlands and around coastal areas.

In the Hawaiian Islands, researchers found a high number of invasive species from all the eight groups they studied. The guppy fish and feral pigs among mammals were discovered in the region, both of which are alien to these islands.

The New Zealand island was also greatly populated by invasive plants. Researchers revealed that around half of New Zealand's plant life did not originally belong to the region and were alien. A great prevalence of rats, cats, and possum also elevated the issue surrounding indigenous birds' survival.

"Both regions are remote islands that used to be very isolated, lacking some groups of organisms altogether — such as mammals, for instance. Today, both regions are economically highly developed countries that maintain intense trade relationships. These have a huge impact on the introduction and naturalisation of non-indigenous species," Franz Essl, an ecologist involved in the study, revealed.

The study also revealed that several alien plants and animals were also present in the state of Florida in the United States.

Factors Responsible For Alien Plant And Animal Species

Researchers revealed that the number of invasive alien life forms in an area depended on the region's human population. For instance, greater population density would lead to the introduction of alien species in that location.

Similarly, the more economically advanced places in the world had greater number of alien plant and animal species.

"In general, regions that are wealthier, and where human populations are denser also have more alien species, but these effects are stronger for islands," the study's researcher Wayne Dawson stated, adding that climate change plays an important role.

Scientists suggest that new ways should be implemented to stop this phenomenon as it may harm the natural plant and animal species of a particular region, due to the change in the ecosystem.

The study's results were published in Nature Ecology And Evolution.

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