Invasion Biology

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Predicting Species Invasions Using Ecological Niche Modeling: New Approaches from Bioinformatics Attack a Pressing Problem

On 3 February 1999, President Clinton signed an executive order dealing with invasive species in the United States. The order was designed to lay the foundation for a program “to prevent the introduction of invasive species and provide for their control and to minimize the economic, ecological, and human health impacts that invasive species cause” (Clinton 1999). This program includes far-reaching plans to prevent, plan, monitor, and study species’ invasions. Such high-level attention emphasizes the enormity of the problem facing the United States, and in fact the entire world: With ever-growing international commerce, reduced barriers to trade, and increasing human influence, species are moving around, and natural systems are suffering drastic changes. The dimensions of the problem are indeed impressive. Alien plants, animals, and microbes have poured into theUnited States from all directions. Natural systems have been disrupted, species extinguished, transportation and agriculture compromised, and resources damaged (Carlton1997–1998, Ogutu-Ohwayo 1997–1998, Richardson1997–1998, Shiva 1997–1998). In fact, most modern agricultureis based on non-native organisms; problems arise because questions of when and why some escape and become nuisances remain unanswered. More generally, no proactive approach to combating such species is available—invasive species are dealt with one at a time, as they become problematic.


Difficulty B

Dr Richard Knight Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological Informatics
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237



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