noaa.gov

What is an invasive species?

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

lionfish

In less than a decade, the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) has become widely established along the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean. Lionfish are capable of permanently impacting economically important species (e.g., snapper and grouper) and may hamper coral reef conservation measures.

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.