Invasive alien species in Arctic islands

Invasive alien species (IAS) are an important issue all over the world. IAS are animals or plants that are introduced into a natural environment where they are not normally from, bringing serious negative consequences for that environment. The invasive alien species change the balance of the ecological cycles, contributing to the degradation of the ecosystem. Because of this they put the native species in danger and can even lead to their extinction.

Even though there are still not many known invasive alien species in the Arctic region it is expected to rise due to higher human activity and climate change. A very famous case of an invasive alien species in the Arctic region is the case of the Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), which was intentionally released into the environment for hunting. The consequences of this were the predation of several birds, the spreading of rabies, pathogens and parasites in northern Scandinavia.

There are many concerning ways by which these species can invade the Arctic region, including: commercial shipping, agriculture, transport of contaminated material, tourism and many others.

The Arctic ecosystem and its biodiversity are important to preserve. Governments and their partners need to work together to make the eradication of invasive alien species already in the Arctic and prevent the future invasions. The Arctic Council’s Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan is precisely a multi-national team of governmental and non-government partners collaborating on this important issue.


Source: J.K. Reaser, G.R. Howald and S.D. Veatch, A plan for the eradication of invasive alien species from Arctic islands (2019) In: C.R. Veitch, M.N. Clout, A.R. Martin, J.C. Russell and C.J. West (eds.). Island invasives: scaling up to meet the challenge, 62: 679–686.

Author: Beatriz Bento


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