Invasive Species

What are invasive species?

Invasive species are those outside their natural distribution, can easily reproduce elsewhere, in addition to interacting with native species, and harming them because they are capable of competing with native organisms, altering the habitat, reducing biodiversity and cause species extinction.

The intentional or accidental introduction of invasive species causes serious damage to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Its presence causes severe consequences for the species, the economy and of course also human health due to the introduction and spread of parasites.

Approximately 40% of the extinctions of species that inhabit aquatic environments have been related to predation, parasitism or competition for the action of invasive species. In the country there are different invasive aquatic species of flora and fauna, among which the cases of hyacinth, sea lettuce, guppy fish, carp, devil fish and lion fish stand out.

The lion fish

Native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean, is an invasive species that has been established in the Mexican Caribbean since 2009. Introduced accidentally. It represents a threat to coral reefs because it is a voracious fish that feeds on smaller native species, it also has no predators, it spreads at great speed and it reproduces at an accelerated rate. Despite being very attractive due to its appearance, it is dangerous to humans due to its venom glands on its spines.

Teaching the local population about lion fish consumption is part of the strategy to contain the problem. Their introduction into the Caribbean, like that of many species in the places they invade, was a consequence of human activity. That is why you should not introduce animals or plants in environments outside of their natural habitat. An apparently innocent action such as introducing these or any other organism into the sea can have serious repercussions on aquatic ecosystems.

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The devil fish

On the other hand, plecos, known as fish tank cleaners or devil fish, are fish native to the Amazon basin in South America. From the aquariums they were released into rivers, wreaking havoc on the fishery, and currently endangering stromatolites (geological formations created by the activity of bacterial communities) and endemic fish.

The environmental problem generated by devil fish has been increasing due to the various disturbances in aquatic systems caused by habitat degradation and deterioration of water quality. It is currently a problem for coastal fishing; since due to its morphology it gets entangled in the nets and makes fishing difficult, causing its rupture and therefore causing a decrease in the commercial catch.

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Barba-Macías, E., Juárez-Flores, J y Magaña-Vázquez, M. (2014). Nuevos registros de plecos (Pterygoplichthys pardalis) (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) en las cuencas del río Grijalva y Tonalá, Pajonal-Machona, Tabasco. Especies invasoras acuáticas: casos de estudio en ecosistemas de México. México, D.F: Semarnat-INECC-UPEI;233p 

CONABIO. (2010). Estrategia nacional sobre especies invasoras en México prevención, control y erradicación.

Convención sobre el comercio internacional de especies amenazadas de fauna y flora silvestres (Cites).

Laura García J. (2019). Especies invasoras ponen en riesgo los sistemas acuáticos mexicanos. Ciencia UNAM-DGDC.

Lovell, S. J. and S. F. Stone, 2005. The economic impacts of aquatic invasive species: a review of the literature. National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. EPA, NCEE Working Paper Series, Working Paper # 05-02, January 2005, 66 pp

MTA, TNC-México, CONABIO, Aridamérica y GECI. 2008. Especies invasoras de alto impacto a la biodiversidad: Prioridades en México. Jiutepec, Morelos. 44 pp.

Valdez-Moreno M. (2013). El pez invasor que llego para quedarse. Ecofronteras. 47: 7-9.

We can all support the conservation of ecosystems if we inform ourselves and act with awareness about the possible consequences of our actions. Prevention together with environmental education programs are the most effective action to face this problem.

- Do not release or abandon any anima in rivers, lagoons and canals! The simple action of releasing a fish or an animal into the sea or another ecosystem, no matter how harmless it may seem, can cause ecological problems.

- Do not feed the wildlife! You alter their eating habits.

- Do not acquire pets without informing yourself! Before buying a pet, research its place of origin, the care it needs and its conservation status.

- And Remember: Never release your pet into the wild!