Invasive Species in the Everglades

Invasive Species in the Everglades (Part 1)

The Florida Everglades is composed of thousands of native plants, animals, healthy bacteria, and other wildlife that work together to keep the environment thriving. However, with over 1.5 million acres of land, the Everglades is susceptible to invasive species that harm the surrounding habitat.

What are Invasive Species?

While the term “invasive species” might sound like a large, scary predator, they can appear in thousands of different sizes, shapes, and forms: small, large, freshwater, marine, animals, bacterial, plants, and even trees.

Invasive species are plants, insects, pathogens, and other wildlife that are not native to the new area in which they are inhabiting. They are very harmful to their nonnative environments, the economy, and even the human health in the area in which they are invading. Invasive species can cause extinction to plants and animals in the Everglades by severely interrupting activity in their environment. They grow and reproduce rapidly, and cause major disturbances to the area in which they are present.

How do Invasive Species Get into the Everglades?

Nonnative species are introduced to Florida through a variety of pathways. Sometimes, humans intentionally bring these species in, or sell them on black markets. Other invasive species are released into the wild when irresponsible pet owners no longer want to take care of them, and sometimes they “hitchhike” to new areas with unknowing travelers. Some plant species can become entangled in boat propellers and travel into Florida, and some invasive species are released through water from foreign ports.

Invasive Species Have Direct Threats on the Everglades in the Following Forms:

•Use the resources such as sunlight, food, and water

•Prey on native species

•Carrying, spreading, and creating diseases

•Killing the young of native species, which effects the future animal population.

•Nonnative species have a competitive advantage against their enemies since they have no natural predators in their nonnative area

•Invasive species may provide little to no food value for natural wildlife in the Everglades. However, since they must eat, they must outcompete native species for food and other resources, further dwindling the population

•Assist in the spread and intensity of wildfires

•Adjust the soil chemistry, which directly affects other plant life.

What Can You Do to Help?

The Florida Everglades depends on a healthy, native ecosystem, which is why the staff atEverglades Holiday Park work to maintain a healthy environment. You can help the Everglades and Everglades Holiday Park in the following ways:

•Be a responsible pet owner. Before you purchase an animal, research if it is healthy to the area in which you will be living.

•Don’t let your pet loose if you no longer want it.

•Report sightings of nonnative species.

At Everglades Holiday Park, our mission is to help Floridians and visitors to explore, enjoy, and help protect the Everglades. By educating our visitors during our Everglades airboat tours, we can help spread awareness of invasive species, and offer tips for protecting our environment.

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