Why are invasive species successful?

1 Answer
Nov 18, 2016

Good question......


Species that are confined to a given area naturally have prey and predators, and their proportions have been balanced by millenia of evolutionary history. Introduce a species to a new area, for instance rabbits or prickly pear to Australia, or rats to urban areas, or the Kudzu vine to North America, these introduced species have no predators that have been adapted to control their populations.

The introduction of rabbits to Australia is a case in point. The native ecology had no wolves or foxes to control the population (foxes are another introduced species in Australia but these tend to prey on native animals), and rabbit populations exploded (they say in the 50's and 60's large swathes of Australia turned into a dustbowl because of rabbit population). The solution? The introduction of the myxomatosis virus, which was non-native to Australia. Of course, this control measure could have gone wrong in unexpected ways.

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