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Deep Dive: Invasives

Deep Dive: Invasives

Invasive species are taking over. It sounds like a headline from a supermarket tabloid — but it's true. They're ruining the places and threatening the creatures that we treasure. A recent study by a United Nations team of researchers from 49 countries finds that some 3,500 invasive species are causing a whopping $423 billion worth of damage every year, and they're responsible for 60% of plant and animal extinctions.

Here in Maine, the problem is not new, but it's accelerating in part because of climate change. Of the 2,100 plant species recorded in Maine, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says about a third are not native, and a small fraction are considered invasive, with the potential to cause extensive harm to the landscape.

Invasive species aren't just plants. They're animals, insects, mollusks, crustaceans and fish. They grow and produce rapidly, with or without help from humans (also an invasive species), and their introduction causes major disruption, outcompeting native species with environmental and economic costs. Those "costs" can include diminished property values, degraded water quality and loss of recreation opportunities as well as effects on human health

What can you do? Scientists say the best way to fight invasive species is to prevent them from occurring in the first place, and that starts with awareness.

Over the next two weeks we'll be highlighting some of the plants, animals and pests that are considered invasive here in Maine. Other resources are here:

Support for Deep Dive: Invasives is provided by:

Maine Audubon Friends of Acadia Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens