These newcomers wreak havoc by changing, degrading, or displacing native habitat. They may bring disease, and compete directly with wildlife for living space as well as food.
Invasive species move around the world in many ways:
Invasive Species and the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes, one of the greatest freshwater resources on Earth, is changing dramatically because of more than 160 invasive species that are tearing the fabric of the food web. The invaders include
Many invasive species have arrived in the Great Lakes by way of ballast water released from ships. Others were released by people dumping aquariums or accidentally letting go of bait fish. The sea lamprey alone, which was first noted in Lake Ontario in the 1830s, not only alters habitat, but is a very aggressive fish, out-competing native fish for prey.
Invasive Species in the Chesapeake Bay: Nutria
This South American rodent, introduced by the fur industry in the 1940s, has destroyed 7,000-8,000 acres of refuge marshland in the Chesapeake Bay region, impacting all the wildlife that calls those wetlands home. They feed on the roots of marsh plants, and are so prolific that their impacts are huge. State and local government and private organizations are working together to discover the best eradication program.
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