Summary Synthesis

Ecologists view invasive species as one of the worst environmental problems facing the conservation of natural areas, because invasive species lower species richness and function. At the same time, invasive species cause much human suffering and economic loss. The approach to eliminating invasive species can be improved by a better understanding of the various types of invasive species, and the scientific hypotheses surrounding their ability to invade novel environments. Despite the billions of dollars spent each year, invasive species are difficult if not impossible to eliminate after they have established. Various methods of eliminating plant species from natural communities are described in this review. An increased understanding of the nature of invasive species including their genetic relationship to their progenitors, hypotheses regarding their invasive qualities, and effective approaches for invasive species elimination are all sorely needed. Volunteers can help in the invasive species effort by working on local plant/animal removal projects, reporting invasive species sightings to appropriate officials, or working with scientists to collect basic data for ecological research.

See a/so: Biological Control Models; Invasive Plants.

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