Invasive species

Challenges Part 5: Invasive Species

Small changes brought about by humans can have large negative impacts on the biology of the Everglades in other ways. The subtropical climate and abundant water (which helped make the original biodiversity so rich), combined with increased human-induced nutrient pollution, makes The Everglades attractive to many animals and plants, which can live very well there and since they have no natural enemies they can breed until they take over habitat used by native species. These invasive species are a major threat to Everglades biodiversity. Most arrive initially due to human influence. South Florida has major ports of entry and large pet, aquarium, and ornamental plant industries.

South Florida ecosystems have been extensively invaded by exotic (nonnative) plants and animals that pose a significant challenge and add costs and uncertainty to Everglades restoration. New species continue to be inadvertently or deliberately introduced, often as byproducts of the horticultural and pet trade industries. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists 61 invasive plants (from a total of 1,389 nonnative species) that are known to cause significant ecological impacts in South Florida. Some of these species have increased in extent to conditions that threaten native species and communities. [38]

Control of exotic invasive animals has lagged behind the control of invasive plants [39] and still receives less effort than plant control. Of the known and thriving invasive animal species introduced into south Florida, four are amphibians, 32 are fish, 12 are birds, 46 are reptiles, 17 are mammals, and approximately 79 are invertebrates, according to the South Florida Water Management District. One high-profile example in the Everglades is the Burmese python.

Other informative lists of invasive species and their impact on the everglades environment include:

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