By: Auburn Air youth journalist, Scott Hyland

An ecosystem is a very sensitive and complex thing. What if we were to introduce an animal or plant foreign to that ecosystem, what would happen? Alien species are a constant threat. If a new species is introduced to an ecosystem that can't handle it, that system will be overrun. Introduce an insect to an ecosystem that is abundant with plants that it likes to eat when none of its natural predators are present, and the insect will breed out of control to the point where the plant is destroyed, thereby seriously unbalancing the system.

Some non-government organizations (ngo's) have come to think that there are 300 alien species in the United States alone. Governments and N.G.O's are working to eliminate the threat of these invasive species. Prevention identifies species to look out for and tries to keep those species away. Erradication destroys all the species of a specific type to maintain a natural balance. Biological control monitors and keeps an eye on suspicious species.

The study to control invasive species always begins with studying its natural predators to help with management. However, many factors slow or even halt management. Is the public aware of the problem? Are governments working well? Do different groups have conflicts of interest? Everything has a use to somebody. Are international governments cooperating? How will the surroundings be affected? What is the best course to take or technology to use? What is their environmental imapct? How quickly will the problem be looked after?

In some countries, invasive species are a profitable problem. Certain species are introduced strictly to be set free and hunted by anyone willing to pay enough money. "Alternative livestock" are raised out of their natural ecosystem so that the country won't have to import. Transplantation of a species is another problem. Even the same animal from a different ecosystem is an invasive species.

Prof. Val Geist, who studies the invasive species problem, told the World Conservation Congress that if the human animal becomes out of control, "We may have to use the Noah's Ark approach." He said that we may have to take members of animal and plant species and isolate them from us until we work out our own overpopulation problems, so that we don't cause everything to go extinct.

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