Invasive Species In Florida
Florida is a very unique place because of its plants, animals, and marine life. However, there is a problem that many people are not aware of and that problem is invasive species. Invasive species are a huge threat to Florida’s ecosystem and all of its native wildlife. “Control of invasive species costs $500 million a year, but 1,700,000 acres of land in south Florida remains infested” (“List of Invasive Species in the Everglades”). It is crucial for people to understand why it is important to get rid of destructive Invasive species in Florida and not bring in new ones.
Invasive species can have positive or negative effects on an ecosystem. First of all, it is important to understand what an invasive species is. In general an invasive species is a species that is not native to a certain place (like Florida) and it adapts very well to the ecosystem and it’s population grows rapidly. According to “Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC],” nonnative fish and wildlife species arrive in Florida two different ways. They are either introduced, which means that they were brought into Florida by humans, or they arrived in Florida by natural range expansion, which means they came on their own by land, air or water.
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The FWC website also says that not all nonnative species are a threat to native species; some become invasive because they harm native species, pose a threat to human health or safety, or cause economic damage. The effects of invasive species are evident when looking at the unique ecosystems of Florida. According to “Web World Wonders,” “Florida’s natural ecosystems are especially valuable because of the disproportionately large contribution they make globally to biological diversity or “biodiversity.” Florida is semi-isolated because it is surrounded by ocean on three sides. Because of this, about 8 percent of Florida’s native plant, fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal species aren’t found anywhere else in the world. One of the most well know ecosystems in Florida is the Everglades; however, as noted in “List of Invasive Species in the Everglades,” the Everglades are a large watershed in southern Florida.
In the 20th century a portion of the Everglades was drained to accommodate urban expansion. With this expansion came many new residents to Florida that brought new plant species and animal species to the area. Many of the new plants grew larger and multiplied beyond their average due to the favorable climate in the Everglades. Many of the non native wild animal species were brought to the area by humans as pets or for animal exhibits. They then either escaped or were released into the wild when their owners no longer wanted them. Because these animals don’t have natural predators or other barriers to reproduction in the everglades they reproduced rapidly.
By the year 2000 government funding was put in place to restore the everglades and stop the reproduction of these invasive plant and animal species. Florida has many examples of invasive species. According to “Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” more than 500 non native species of fish and wildlife have been found in Florida. Noted in an article from the “Nature Conservancy,” nonnative, invasive plants and animal species cause a lot of damage when brought into Florida’s natural environment. Because of Florida’s favorable climate, invasive species cause more damage in Florida than anywhere else on the continental United States. Florida is more exposed to these plants and animals due to the fact that three-fourths of the plants imported into the United States and the majority of the world’s reptile trade comes through Florida.
In fact, according to the “Nature Conservancy,” “The threat invasive species poses is second only to the direct destruction of habitats through development.” According to the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” the Burmese Python is one of the non native reptile species that was introduced into Florida in the 1980s. The Pythons have mainly been seen around the south end of Everglades National Park. In Florida the Burmese Pythons have been preying on a variety of mammals, birds and even alligators. They may also prey on pets such as cats and dogs.
Because of their large size they have few predators so their population can spread quickly. Burmese pythons can pose a threat to human safety because they can cause serious injury. The python is currently listed as a conditional species in Florida which means that it can no longer be acquired as a pet in the state. The federal Lacey Act also prevents pythons from being imported into the United States. A few of the other invasive species in Florida are wild hogs, Cuban tree frogs, nile monitors, Asian swamp eels, African jewelfish, lionfish and many more.
To help save Florida’s native species, steps need to be taken to lessen the impact of invasive species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommends the following: people who have exotic pets that they no longer want need to take them to an animal shelter or sanctuary rather than releasing them into the wild. Always remember to rinse and remove aquatic plants and invertebrates, such as snails and mussels, from boat trailers, hulls and propellers. Don’t dump aquarium contents into lakes, ponds, or other bodies of water. Replace invasive and other non native plants in your yard with native plant species. It is very important for people to be educated on the impacts of invasive species and the different kinds of invasive species.
People should also know how they can help prevent the spread of invasive species and what to do if they find an invasive species. Helping to identify and eliminate invasive species in Florida will help preserve the native species and the natural ecosystem of Florida. Works Cited “Florida’s Exotic Fish and Wildlife.” Nonnative Species. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2013. Web.
31 Jan. 2013. “List of Invasive Species in the Everglades.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Jan.
2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. “The Nature Conservancy.
Protecting Nature. Preserving Life.a??.” Combating Invasive Species in Florida. The Nature Conservancy, n.
d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. “Web World Wonders.
” Web World Wonders. N.p., n.d.
Web. 13 Feb. 2013.