Living with aliens

Shonil Bhagwat

Lantana_camara_Wikimedia-commons

How can we live with aliens? Of course, I mean alien invasive species that have spread themselves around the world hitchhiking our transport systems. Indeed, many of them have travelled far along our shipping routes. Zebra mussel is a classic example of an alien species that travelled from the Black Sea to the Great Lakes in North America in 1988. It soon became invasive in its new home and proliferated so much that it started to clog water pipes. At one point, this invasion by the alien was reported to cut off a town’s water supply!

I was at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden the other day giving a public lecture ‘A brave new world: Alien invasive species and novel ecosystems’. This was to celebrate the International Day of Biological Diversity. I talked about the example of Lantana (pictured above), one of 10 worst invasive species…

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