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Introduced Species

Deliberate Introductions, Accidental Introductions, Introduced Species As An Environmental Problem

Some species of plants, animals, and microorganisms have been spread by humans over much wider ranges than they occupied naturally. Some of these introductions have been deliberate and were intended to improve conditions for some human activity, for example, in agriculture, or to achieve aesthetics that were not naturally available in some place. Other introductions have been accidental, as when plants were introduced with soil transported as ballast in ships or insects were transported with timber or food. Most deliberate or accidental introductions have not proven to be successful, because the immigrant species were unable to sustain themselves without the active intervention of humans. (In other words, the introduced species did not become naturalized.) However, some introduced species have become extremely troublesome pests, causing great economic damage or severe loss of natural values. One study estimated that there were more than 30,000 introduced species in the United States, and that the damaging ones caused $123 billion in economic losses.

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