Invasive species are exotic species, that is, from other regions, which, when introduced into a new environment, manage to establish and disperse. The consequences of their presence are multiple: in principle, they modify the structure and functioning of the new ecosystem, they also displace native species and can transmit diseases and pests.
As a result, the introduction of exotic species constitutes a great threat to biodiversity. The native species of Argentina are not exempt from this threat and, therefore, from Ecologista Verde we will tell you some examples of invasive species in Argentina and their consequences.
To answer your questions about what are the invasive species in Argentina, we begin by talking about the serious case of beaverCastor canadensis).
During 1946 ten pairs of beavers, coming from Canada, were introduced to the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego with the purpose of using them for their fur. Currently it is estimated that its population exceeds 100,000 specimens and it is considered the exotic animal in Argentina It has brought more problems, since it managed to quickly spread throughout the island, even reaching Chilean insular and continental territory.
Due to its behavior, the beaver gnaws the slow-growing trees found in the Fuegian forests, collapses them and with them builds its burrows and dikes. As a balance, its presence significantly altered the structure of the forest ecosystem, modifying the water regime and also the nutrient dynamics of the forest.
This small mammal was introduced to Argentina in 1970 for its ornamental appeal. Initially, only 10 individuals entered the country, but as a result of intentional escapes or transfers, five populations of red-bellied squirrelCallosciurus erythraeus), most of them in areas of high agricultural activity.
For its part, this invasive species in Argentina it causes great economic losses due to the consumption of fruit destined for commercialization, irrigation hose breaks, damage to storage silos and telephone, light and television cables. They are also estimated to have a negative impact on native bird populations by destroying their nests and occasionally consuming their eggs.
The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) or also called european starling, is a species of migratory bird native to Europe and Asia. The first record of this species in Argentina was in 1987, specifically in the City of Buenos Aires.
However, over the years it has managed to spread to the west and north of the country. The invasion of this species of starling translates into economic losses, mainly due to its effects on vineyards and more commercial crops. In addition, this species displaces native species since it competes with them for food and the use of holes in which to nest.
In the mid-1950s, the first hatcheries of American minkNeovison mink) in the country with the intention of using their skin as an economic resource. Subsequently, successive escapes occurred that allowed the mink to disperse to the north and east, following the rivers and lakes of the Andean mountain range.
Today, this Argentine invasive species represents a difficulty for the management of national parks. The mink is a great predator of waterfowl and, particularly, the macá tobiano is the aquatic bird most threatened by its presence.
Like the invasive species in Argentina previously mentioned, the income of the Bull frog (Lithobates catesbeianus) to the country was intentional.
In this case, the success of its establishment is explained because it is a generalist predator, it has a high reproductive rate and a lack of predators. In addition, it is capable of transmitting pathogens to other amphibians. That is why the bullfrog has been classified as a harmful and detrimental species for Argentine biodiversity.
The giant African snailsAchatina fulica) they were introduced in Asia, America and Oceania. Due to the damages it generates, this species is included in the list of World's 100 Most Harmful Invasive Alien Species.
In Argentina, in particular, it causes significant losses in agricultural gardens, especially affecting small producers and subsistence farmers. Likewise, the African snail constitutes a risk to public health, since it is a carrier of pathogens associated with meningitis and other human diseases.
The privetLigustrum lucidum) It is an arboreal species native to China, which was introduced in Argentina for ornamental purposes. Through the years it managed to colonize the native forests of the center and north of the country.
Being a dominant species within the biological community, it is estimated that its presence can have important effects on the water dynamics of forest ecosystems, affecting not only native species, but also the indigenous communities that depend on them.
Often the bush lupineLupinus arboreus) It is used to fix dunes and as an ornamental plant for its showy yellow flowers.
In Argentina it was introduced for both reasons, however, it has practically colonized the dunes in its entirety, excluding native species. Added to this, the bush lupine not only displaces local flora species, but also favors the establishment of exotic species due to its great capacity to fix nitrogen in the soil.
The different species of tamariskTamarix spp.) they are often used for ornamental purposes and as a barrier against the wind.
This genus of invasive plants It stands out because it has a great ability to completely modify the ecosystems it invades. Precisely in Argentina, after their introduction, tamarisks managed to establish successfully in arid and semi-arid areas, causing the salinization and desertification of their soils.
Are exotic species in Argentina They have caused more than one headache, especially for those who are charged with managing protected areas.
Specifically in El Palmar National Park and in the Paraná River Delta, the ash treesFraxinus spp.) They grow spontaneously and, thanks to their high colonizing capacity, they have managed to modify the water regime of the ecosystem, displacing native species.
The weeping willowSalix babylonica), native to Asia, is normally used to fix soils and stabilize river banks. However, their introduction in Argentina it has brought more negative consequences than benefits.
Among the impacts that it causes we can mention: obstruction of rivers and streams, modification of the light regime (which causes changes in water temperature), alteration of the availability of nutrients in the river and in the level of the water table, among others.
This large tree has an excessive consumption of water, a resource for which all plants compete. Furthermore, the height and dense foliage of the eucalyptusEucalyptus globulus) they prevent the growth of native species of smaller size, which impoverishes the diversity of flora and fauna of the place. Finally, the accumulation of its leaves on the ground increases the risk of fire.
Despite the fact that eucalyptus is one of the species most used for the paper industry, the establishment of its populations undoubtedly constitutes a strong threat to local biodiversity.
As you already know all these invasive species better in Argentina, we encourage you to learn more about this problem by reading these other articles by Ecologist Verde on What are invasive species, examples and consequences, Introduction of exotic species: causes and consequences and Flora and fauna from Argentina. Likewise, you may also be interested in knowing 34 species of animals in danger of extinction in Argentina, since some are affected by invasive species.
If you want to read more articles similar to Invasive species in Argentina, we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category.