Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Attack of the Aliens

By Jennambarry @JennaMBarry

Attack of the AliensThe Observer Ethical Awards is under-way for 2012 and this year they have joined forces with the University of Hull in an attempt to gather intelligence for an imminent war on alien invaders. Their weaponry is advanced, their numbers are great, and their distribution unknown…

Closer to home looked at some of our most beloved native species and some of the individual threats they face, but one thing that unites them all is a relentless war against non-native invaders.

More than 2,000 uninvited guests have forged a home on British soil. Some, granted are relatively harmless and even well loved, the staple conker tree of childhood (a horse chestnut) is a 16th century alien! However many are not so forgiving in their integration. Widely know examples like the gray squirrel and the ring necked parakeet (pictured) are forming such strongholds that they are overwhelming our native flora and fauna with losses that would be unacceptable to our biodiversity.

Assessing the damage and monitoring all these species is an incredible challenge for the scientific community and research is highlighting the need for a more specific understanding of distribution, in order to target conservation efforts. This has led to a new initiative known as ‘citizen science’ in which members of the public are being asked to document sightings of particularly worrisome species and send them in. This will build up a bank of data invaluable to those trying to preserve our native habitats and their occupants.

The top 10 culprits of concern are:

  • Signal crayfish
  • Grey squirrel
  • Muntjac deer
  • Ring-necked parakeet
  • Red eared terrapin
  • Harlequin ladybird
  • Horse-chestnut leaf-miner
  • Rhododendron
  • Floating pennywort
  • Himalayan balsam

For more detailed information including images, why the species are particularly threatening, and where to send in your findings click here. Get cracking with some simple, effective DIY science and be spectacularly patriotic for your environment!

Article image- Alex Crawford, 2008

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