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Thread: Are humans an invasive species?

  1. #1 Are humans an invasive species? 
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    I'm taking an upper level ecology course and a student asked this question.

    I wanted to cry out ("YESSSSSSSSSSSSS"), but the professor, taken aback choose to brush off it off restating it was an interesting interpretation and moving along (smart lady wanting to stay focused on the learning objective).


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    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    I'd have shouted YESSSSSSSSSS with you!


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    I would like to express that I personally think that we are one; an invasive species. We do qualify as an invasive species; with the single exception that we will need to identify where our species is "indigenous" to. Once we get past that barrier/difficulty, we can begin to put the nails into the coffin.


    So, just where are we indigenous to?
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    I would like to express that I personally think that we are one; an invasive species. We do qualify as an invasive species; with the single exception that we will need to identify where our species is "indigenous" to. Once we get past that barrier/difficulty, we can begin to put the nails into the coffin.


    So, just where are we indigenous to?
    Earth?

    I mean we evolved here like everything else....so would not everything be indigenous to earth.....or is nothing indigenous to earth?

    And if we are, as we "evolved", how could we not be indigenous?

    JUST A QUESTION!
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    So, just where are we indigenous to?
    Earth?
    The context here is the type of ecological habitats.
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    Indigenous?

    I'm not sure that's the real question. It's more like what are we capable of. Being omnivorous as well as versatile in responding to living conditions, we should look at what other species are like us in that respect. Rats, mice, pigs, goats, cats, dogs, foxes, rabbits are the obvious mammals with the versatility to adapt to virtually any living conditions, although not all of them are omnivorous. If you've ever seen a documentary on restoring an island's fauna and flora by removal of one or more of these creatures it can be an eye-opener.

    It can be too easy to see how invasive rabbits or goats have destroyed a whole mountain range's fauna along with the springs and water courses and soil structures. Much less easy to see how the humans have done much the same thing by their equally thoughtless exploitation of a region's resources.

    (I might be a bit more touchy on this subject because I'm Australian and our environment is pretty delicate, but it's pretty true for more robust environments anyway.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Indigenous?

    I'm not sure that's the real question. It's more like what are we capable of.
    To view a species as an invasive one, aren't we required to identify whether it (the species) is or isn't indigenous to the specific ecological habitat that is said to be invading? Or have I misunderstood the meaning of invasive species?

    Also, are migratory species considered invasive as well?
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    So, just where are we indigenous to?
    Earth?
    The context here is the type of ecological habitats.
    Ok but if we evolved and therefore are indidgenous, not being a scientist, would we be predators?

    So what ARE WE?

    We take from ecology but we also give back (not always in a good way.)

    We must also effect ecology.

    I would think we create ecology.
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    Also, are migratory species considered invasive as well?
    I wouldn't have thought so normally. Australian lakes and rivers host birds from Russia. European rooftops and forests host seasonal visitors from Africa.

    I'd have thought one of the obvious damaging effects of the well-known invasive species is to disrupt or destroy a habitat that is part of a seasonal pathway for migrating or transiting birds or animals. Just look at the problems in Africa and India with agriculture encroaching on elephants' well-established seasonal paths. (Though I must say I'm really, really impressed with people creative enough to use animals' known behaviour to "control" them when they endanger crops and livelihoods of farmers. Bees Protect Kenyan Crops From Elephants : Discovery News )
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Indigenous?

    I'm not sure that's the real question. It's more like what are we capable of. Being omnivorous as well as versatile in responding to living conditions, we should look at what other species are like us in that respect. Rats, mice, pigs, goats, cats, dogs, foxes, rabbits are the obvious mammals with the versatility to adapt to virtually any living conditions, although not all of them are omnivorous. If you've ever seen a documentary on restoring an island's fauna and flora by removal of one or more of these creatures it can be an eye-opener.

    It can be too easy to see how invasive rabbits or goats have destroyed a whole mountain range's fauna along with the springs and water courses and soil structures. Much less easy to see how the humans have done much the same thing by their equally thoughtless exploitation of a region's resources.

    (I might be a bit more touchy on this subject because I'm Australian and our environment is pretty delicate, but it's pretty true for more robust environments anyway.)
    We have removed animals and vegetation not indigenous to our islands. Hawai'i....here we remove those to our shores.....our ocean, Mainland.


    Methinks I am out of my element and my questions are not proper.

    I shall just read.
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    Humans are invasive only when they do not use their environment in a proper way and destroy it through misuse.
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    We move into environments and out-compete the native species. I'd say we're invasive.
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  14. #13  
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    The invasiveness of a species has nothing to do with wether or not it gives back to the ecology. It just means that the species came from some where else and is displacing native species and driving them to be marginalized and extinquished. Since it would seem that we originated as a bright, cooperative, great ape, with remarkable communication skills, in africa about 1-2 million years ago and are now found on every continent it is clear we are the most invasive species ever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    We move into environments and out-compete the native species. I'd say we're invasive.
    Succinct and definitive.

    the term invasive species is further clarified and defined as “a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
    http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/d...il/isacdef.pdf
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    The concept of us humans being invasive is bullshit.

    Are we smarter then 99.9999& of the other species on this planet... yes!
    Do we have the abilty to shape our own world... yes!

    Most simple humans think we only started to impact this planet during the last few centuries. They would be wrong to think so. We human have been impacting this planet for thousands of years!

    In fact Archeologists think we are responsible -as a species- for the downfall of the Neanderthal-man.

    We atleast seem to have a cunning ability to control our environment. Does that make us invasive?

    I do not think so. We -at this time- are on top of the chain. We on this planet follow the laws of nature, just as any other creature. Even with our inventions.

    We are not invasive,.... we are the result of millions of years of evolution. We... humans excell in our adaptibility.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estheria Quintessimo View Post
    The concept of us humans being invasive is bullshit.
    Maybe, but that depends on how you define invasive. But for the most part I think invasive applies to a species that has been relocated knowingly or by accident to an area where that creature or animal has no natural controls on it.

    Are we smarter then 99.9999& of the other species on this planet... yes!
    Do we have the abilty to shape our own world... yes!
    Yes but are we? I think the major shaping of this world is caused by humans and the prognosis is not good. We seem to be out of control and I'm not seeing us really doing anything that's going to fix the problems in time to save billions of people.

    Most simple humans think we only started to impact this planet during the last few centuries. They would be wrong to think so. We human have been impacting this planet for thousands of years!
    Agreed

    In fact Archeologists think we are responsible -as a species- for the downfall of the Neanderthal-man.
    It's an example of a larger population just absorbing a smaller population. A large percentage of humans on this planet have 2 - 4% of Neanderthal DNA in their bodies.

    We at least seem to have a cunning ability to control our environment. Does that make us invasive?
    Do you really think so? Our environment is the complete Earths biosphere and we are doing a piss poor job of controlling it.

    I do not think so. We -at this time- are on top of the chain. We on this planet follow the laws of nature, just as any other creature. Even with our inventions.
    Yes we are doing what is in our nature to do, and the story is still a work in progress. I'm not very convinced it will have a happy resolution.

    We are not invasive,.... we are the result of millions of years of evolution. We... humans excel in our adaptability.
    Just because we can adept doesn't mean our quality of life will remain as good as it is now. Nor does it mean we are safe from extinction.

    In the future the human population explosion will be know as the cause of the greatest extinction event on planet Earth.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estheria Quintessimo View Post
    The concept of us humans being invasive is bullshit.

    Are we smarter then 99.9999& of the other species on this planet... yes!
    Do we have the abilty to shape our own world... yes!

    Most simple humans think we only started to impact this planet during the last few centuries. They would be wrong to think so. We human have been impacting this planet for thousands of years!
    The difference is in the type of impact on the environment or other native species. Before the industrial revolution our impact was minimal, yes we spread out from our place of origin, but that does not qualify as invasive unless we damage native habitat to the detriment of other species. Lots of species live together because they do not compete and use the environment in specific limited ways. Some species even depend on each other for existence (symbiotic relationship).

    In fact Archeologists think we are responsible -as a species- for the downfall of the Neanderthal-man.
    Yes and No, it qualifies as invasive (replacing or exterminating earlier native species), however we did this over a period of thousands of years which apparently allowed for Neanderthal to integrate into the modern human population (we all have Neanderthal in our DNA).

    We at least seem to have a cunning ability to control our environment. Does that make us invasive?
    Yes, because our actions (altering the environment) causes destruction of natural resources on which other species rely for their existence.[/quote]

    I do not think so. We -at this time- are on top of the chain. We on this planet follow the laws of nature, just as any other creature. Even with our inventions.
    Yes, the real damage to our environment and its native populations (including ourselves) did not start in earnest until after the Industrial Revolution. I do not need to cite examples, we hear them everyday.

    We are not invasive,.... we are the result of millions of years of evolution. We... humans excell in our adaptibility.
    Wrong, we do not adapt to our environment, we have this "cunning ability to control our environment", meaning adapting the environment to our needs, regardless of the plight of native species. That makes us invasive.

    Of course "expansion of territory" is an evolutionary process and, in context of the OP question, I am not attaching any moral significance to being "invasive". It is not a peculiar human trait. There are many invasive species.

    But IMO, there is a difference between slow migration over millions of years and allowing native populations to adapt or move, and the cutting down of a rainforest in a few days, destroying every living thing in its path. In that respect we are very similar to the Army Ant. Another invasive species.
    Army Ants - National Geographic Magazine
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Estheria Quintessimo View Post
    The concept of us humans being invasive is bullshit.
    Maybe, but that depends on how you define invasive. But for the most part I think invasive applies to a species that has been relocated knowingly or by accident to an area where that creature or animal has no natural controls on it.

    Are we smarter then 99.9999& of the other species on this planet... yes!
    Do we have the abilty to shape our own world... yes!
    Yes but are we? I think the major shaping of this world is caused by humans and the prognosis is not good. We seem to be out of control and I'm not seeing us really doing anything that's going to fix the problems in time to save billions of people.

    Most simple humans think we only started to impact this planet during the last few centuries. They would be wrong to think so. We human have been impacting this planet for thousands of years!
    Agreed

    In fact Archeologists think we are responsible -as a species- for the downfall of the Neanderthal-man.
    It's an example of a larger population just absorbing a smaller population. A large percentage of humans on this planet have 2 - 4% of Neanderthal DNA in their bodies.

    We at least seem to have a cunning ability to control our environment. Does that make us invasive?
    Do you really think so? Our environment is the complete Earths biosphere and we are doing a piss poor job of controlling it.

    I do not think so. We -at this time- are on top of the chain. We on this planet follow the laws of nature, just as any other creature. Even with our inventions.
    Yes we are doing what is in our nature to do, and the story is still a work in progress. I'm not very convinced it will have a happy resolution.

    We are not invasive,.... we are the result of millions of years of evolution. We... humans excel in our adaptability.
    Just because we can adept doesn't mean our quality of life will remain as good as it is now. Nor does it mean we are safe from extinction.

    In the future the human population explosion will be known as the cause of the greatest extinction event on planet Earth.
    It already has a name "The Sixth Extinction"
    Can we stop the devastation of our planet and save our own species? We are in a biodiversity crisis — the fastest mass extinction in Earth’s history, largely due to:
    •human destruction of ecosystems
    •overexploitation of species and natural resources
    •human overpopulation
    •the spread of agriculture
    •pollution
    The Sixth Extinction (ActionBioscience)
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  20. #19  
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    timing?

    One might readily acknowledge that every land based organism is an invasive species.
    Everything living where glaciers were 20kybp is an invasive species(excepting maybe a couple extremophiles).
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  21. #20  
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    Estheria, a large part of intelligence is about foreseeing consequences. The part that involves changing how we do things in light of unwanted consequences and balancing short term gains against longer term losses remains deeply flawed. For an example I give you the link between emissions of CO2 and global climate. For all our intelligence - the capacity for foresight such that we know we are consuming a type of environmental capital - relative climate stablity - upon which our agriculture depends, beyond what is sustainable yet to choose to continue doing so unchecked. Not so intelligent after all.

    Population crashes are the normal consequence of an initial colonisation by a species that significantly outcompetes the existing species - that of their competitors and prey as well as the invading species itself. That we've managed to avoid the big crash so far is a remarkable achievement but not proof that it's been permanently averted; all indicators are that we haven't, just taken population so far beyond what's sustainable that the crash will be a lot deeper and harder to recover from. Because exceeding our carrying capacity is so much dependent on our systems of organisation and those are fragile, shaky constructs that have grown up to exploit an abundance of resources, I'm not convinced they will do so well for us when they are no longer abundant and the costs of unintended consequences exceeds the value of the intended ones. Many of these systems look likely to simply fail at that point. Unless we use intelligence and foresight and ability to organise ourselves to achieve complex objectives.

    I think the term "invasive"is appropriate in the colloquial sense even if it has an existing, technical meaning that includes ideas about a species coming from outside an existing ecosystem. We aren't biologically from outside, but our constructs - social, technological - are entirely alien to every ecosystem.
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    Expanding our habitat is successful evolution.

    Causing the extinction of other species with little regard save to pave the way for our own purposes is the 'invasive' aspect of our 'success' as a species, IMO.
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    I could be wrong about this, but isn't the main trait that makes an "invasive species" dangerous, the simple lack of built in environmental barriers against overpopulation of that species?

    They do well in the new environment, but they do too well.

    Humanity doesn't have any of those built in environmental barriers anymore. The two we had were infant mortality, and genocidal war. And we've kind of lost both.
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    What is an "invasive species"? (The concept "sounds" a bit fabricated)


    I oppose multi-cellular life and plants, its wantonly invading the earth, the earth should remain the pure and uninvaded domain of unicellular life.
    Continental Soil molecules should have micro signs that says, "Life back in the water!" No invasive life should invade continental land's soil! You are spreading an wantonly disrupting the mineral molecules by changing the way they are arranged in more complex ways!
    And Hydrogen Atoms should have signs saying "No to Fusion!" "Abolish Stars!" (Hellium, Carbon and Oxygen are invading the Universe! To arms fellow Hydrogen atoms dont let that happen! All together, unite, we will... oh oh, no theres too much of us, we are forming the star we oppose! nooooo! )


    I think we should "invade" Mars and make life and humans multi-planetary in our solar system. Ironically, the self sustaining technologies required to survive on Mars will most likely make it easier for humans on Earth to reduce their ecological footprint and make it easier to preserve the current natural environment.
    Last edited by icewendigo; September 4th, 2013 at 10:42 AM.
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    Kojax -

    Humanity doesn't have any of those built in environmental barriers anymore. The two we had were infant mortality, and genocidal war. And we've kind of lost both.
    I think it's premature to say environmental barriers to human population growth are lost. There are plenty of reasons to think they are still there and we are kidding ourselves if we think humanity's 'dream run' will continue forever. Most of the great abundance we enjoy is based on methods that we already know cannot be sustained but choose to continue using unimpeded.

    As for genocidal war - if we continue to disregard the science based warnings about environmental limits and unintended harms it remains a likely possibility. When the continuation of that 'dream run' of unabated growth is based on choosing to disbelieve serious unintended consequences like climate change/global warming even exist or choosing to unjustifiably discount them - as I would argue is not just an element, but a dominant theme and meme in modern practical economic management - war looks like a likely consequence. Few leaders are statesmanlike enough to admit they got it wrong and the ever reliable political fallback position of distracting the public by blaming others will ensure that war remains with us. With modern weaponry it can be as bad as genocidal even without the genocidal intent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I could be wrong about this, but isn't the main trait that makes an "invasive species" dangerous, the simple lack of built in environmental barriers against overpopulation of that species?

    They do well in the new environment, but they do too well.

    Humanity doesn't have any of those built in environmental barriers anymore. The two we had were infant mortality, and genocidal war. And we've kind of lost both.
    Infant mortality is still high in the US.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat.../2091rank.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    I would like to express that I personally think that we are one; an invasive species. We do qualify as an invasive species; with the single exception that we will need to identify where our species is "indigenous" to. Once we get past that barrier/difficulty, we can begin to put the nails into the coffin.


    So, just where are we indigenous to?
    Africa.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Yes, we are. However so is every other species out there. Every species on the planet got where it was by invading territory it was not indigenous to and taking it over.
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    is it dangerous to be invasive? ecologically and genetically we are invasive by nature.
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    I agree that expansion is simply successful evolution. That we are rapidly expanding beyond comfort for our own species, even if we accept that the extinxtion of other species is simply the way these things work, gives me cause for pause in the manner which I view 'humankind' and the reason that I view humans as invasive, destructive and detrimental to their own well-being, save for those few that can successfully adapt to or exploit changes as they occur.

    The planet is our lifeboat and soon we shall have to decide who we are going to throw overboard as supplies, especially fresh water, begin to dwindle. Those of us who have never lived in a country where there is war or where the basics of life are lacking cannot comprehend the conditions that a significant proportion of the population have managed to survive in. All that any of us can truly know with any certainty is that which we have experienced.

    Yes, we can read about history or how things are elsewhere but we are not 'living it'.
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    Invasive species? Yes, look at Africa, Syria, and all other Muslim countries. They breed like rats only to go be stupid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonCanvas View Post
    Invasive species? Yes, look at Africa, Syria, and all other Muslim countries. They breed like rats only to go be stupid.
    Whereas Americans are enlightened?

    I would like to think a comment like this is beneath the members of this forum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonCanvas View Post
    Invasive species? Yes, look at Africa, Syria, and all other Muslim countries. They breed like rats only to go be stupid.
    Moderator Action: We do not tolerate blatant racist behaviour on this forum. It is wholly unacceptable. Please keep your small-minded igonorance to yourself.

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    There is a fine line between invasive and indigenous. The first Asians to cross over the Bering Sea might have been called a new species or invasive. 10,000 yrs later the Europeans arrived and the invasive became the indigenous, with the invaders what? Not invasive as they were the same species, but certainly acting as invasive with the germs and technology they carried.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sampson View Post
    There is a fine line between invasive and indigenous.
    Agreed. Indeed, the difference depends only upon time. Are the cichlids of Lake Victoria invasive or indigenous? 15,000 years ago they were invasive; just a few managed to reach the new lake and start multiplying. Now they're indigenous - and indeed species like the Nile Perch are now called the invasive species, endangering the "indigenous" cichlids.
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    It is time-dependent. We have a specific legal definition for the terms we use in restoration or implementation projects. Noxious and invasive plants are defined as detrimental to ecology and biodiversity at the given time.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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