What is an invasive species?

An invasive species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.

VIDEO: What is an invasive species? Here's what you need to know in less than a minute. Transcript

Invasive species can harm both the natural resources in an ecosystem as well as threaten human use of these resources. An invasive species can be introduced to a new area via the ballast water of oceangoing ships, intentional and accidental releases of aquaculture species, aquarium specimens or bait, and other means.

Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats. This can result in huge economic impacts and fundamental disruptions of coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Video Transcript

Invasive species are animals or plants from another region of the world that don’t belong in their new environment. They can be introduced to an area by ship ballast water, accidental release, and most often, by people. Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native plants and animals, destroy biodiversity, and permanently alter habitats.