Invasive species pose a threat to native species. They compete for resources, change habitats and unbalance ecosystems. Also known as exotics, non-natives and introduced species, they are species that have moved outside of their normal distribution. They can be devastating to native populations and are one of the five biggest dangers to biodiversity. While humans sometimes deliberately introduce inasive species, many are accidentally transported on everything from the bottoms of shoes to the hulls of boats.

The impact of invasive species on human health and the economy is also a concern. Every year invasive species cause an estimated 12.5bn Euros worth of damage in Europe alone. The zebra mussel and the quagga mussel for example, while only the size of a fingernail, are wreaking havoc in the UK and the USA by clogging up pipes and changing the chemical makeup of water systems. Other species that are of particular concern to the UK are:

  • the Harlequin ladybird - outcompetes native ladybirds for food
  • the Asian hornet - targets honeybees along with other insects
  • the aptly nicknamed ‘killer shrimp’ - preys on small fish. 

Watch Prof Helen Roy explain more about invasive non-native species: