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33 aquatic species worldwide at ‘high risk’ of invasion

33 aquatic species worldwide
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Ground Report | New Delhi: 33 aquatic species worldwide; A worldwide threat assessment revealed that 33 water species are at risk of becoming invasive. According to the study, climate change has been blamed for the risk of becoming invasive.  Invasive species migrate and spread easily in many areas of the world.

They can exert their dangerous influence in these areas. Invasive species around the world need to be looked at in order to identify which species pose a major threat to native species and ecosystems.

Dangerous to people’s health

Researcher Hill leads a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study shows that hundreds of species across six continents are threatened by invasive organisms. Scientists, including Hill, have used this kit to assess invasive threats to such organisms. Once these organisms spread beyond their native range, these invasive species can become environmental, social, or dangerous to people’s health.

For the study, 195 scientists used the Aquatic Species Invasion Kit (AS-ISK) to screen 819 species.

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Some of the invasive species and their impacts assessed by Hill are:   

  • Radial Slider, Trachemys Scripta Elegans – This turtle breeds with a native turtle known as the Yellowbelly Slider.
  • Cane Toad, Rhinella marina – This large frog feeds on smaller amphibians and competes with the inhabitants who live there for the food. It also secretes poisons dangerous to pets and wildlife.
  • Amazon Sailfin Catfish, Pterygoplichthys Pardalis: This dangerous weaponized catfish burrows to lay eggs. In doing so, it increases the erosion of natural water and water bodies.

Researcher Hill said they aim to provide information on policy makers, day-to-day management decision-makers and global threats to aquatic ecosystems. Such equipment is used to identify potentially invasive species and prevent damage from their hazard effects to help improve water agriculture, aquarium trade and fisheries management.

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Map of the risk assessment areas for which species were screened with the Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit

Risk of a species becoming invasive of 33 aquatic species worldwide

The S-ISK scoring system is used for the identification of invasive species . The higher the score, the greater the risk of a species becoming invasive. To get the most out of the tool, scientists calculate scores to differentiate between moderate and high danger. This usually results in the detection of non-aggressive versus invasive species. Researchers have studied the extent of threats to the species in different climates.

Through their analysis, the researchers have introduced this to the world, so that natural resource managers can now determine species as “low,” “moderate” or “high” risk under current and future climate conditions.

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  • If the assessment turns out to be too high a threat, it is necessary to decide which species is more threatened.
  • Actions like elimination or control need to be taken immediately to avoid or reduce the ill effects.
  • Full risk assessment of the species is required.
  • Additional rules and norms should be met in sensitive areas.  

Despite the large number of aquatic species screened in this study, bacteria were represented by only one species and no screenings for fungi were contributed. Risk screenings of these groups of aquatic organisms would require the participation of experts in the fields of microbiology and mycology, respectively.

 Number (and corresponding percentage) of species screened according to aquatic organismal group.

The points to the need for greater multi-disciplinarity in future risk identification/assessment studies, which is particularly important as both aquatic bacteria and fungi are known to exert in some cases severe ecological impacts once established and spread in their invasive range.

Scientists calculate differentiate between moderate and high risk

Their goal is to inform policy makers, day-to-day management decision-makers and other stakeholders about global threats to aquatic ecosystems, said Hill, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin. Agencies and businesses around the world use decision-support tools to identify potentially invasive species and help sustain aquaculture, aquarium trade and fisheries management before they cause negative impacts (33 aquatic species worldwide).

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Uses AS-ISK scoring system. The higher the score, the higher the risk of a species becoming invasive. To get the most out of the tool, scientists calculate scores to differentiate between moderate and high risk — normally non-invasive versus potentially invasive. The researchers studied the risk threshold for the species in different climates. Those factors provide a basis for scientists to interpret the invasion range.

Although helpful, the risk assessments are not meant to be comprehensive, Hill said. Each screen has 49 questions for a basic assessment and six more questions about climate change.

Through their analysis, the researchers provided global thresholds so that natural resource managers can now assign species as “low,” “moderate” or “high” risk under current and future climate conditions, Hill said.

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