Climate Change and Invasive Plants Recap

For all those needing a refresher of what an invasive species is, check out this fun and short 2 minute video!

Common Characteristics of Invasive Species

  • Have few natural predators, competitors, parasites or diseases
  • Have high reproductive rates
  • Are long-lived
  • Are generalists
  • Are pioneer species

Cumulative number of invasive alien plant species introduced into Canada from 1600 to 2007

Climate change is facilitating plant invasions

"Purple loosestrife—a European import widely planted in the 19th century for medicinal use—blooms 24 days earlier in Concord than it did a century ago.
Pennsylvania bitter cress, a familiar native plant in Concord, blooms only about a day earlier than it did in the early 1900s."

"Invasive species are, by nature, highly flexible, and respond to unusual environments more quickly than do natives."

Changes in climate will alter local environment conditions, making it harder for native species to outcompete invasive species.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report-Synthesis Report (2014)

The IPCC 2014 synthesis report “has new insights, much greater confidence in some of the findings that they had earlier and this makes it a powerful scientific document on the basis of which the world can take action to deal with the challenge of climate change.”

“The synthesis report provides a roadmap, on the basis of which policy makers can take action and deal with the challenge of climate change.”

Please watch the video below:

The figure below was presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 2014 report:

Increases in global temperature have direct effects on invasive plant species

Global temperatures are projected to increase in the late 21st century. Why is that important?

Hou et al. (2014) conducted a study that tested the direct effects of temperature change on Asteraceae seedling germination, growth and survival. They found that invasive species germinate more readily, have a higher growth rate and better survival than native plant species at high temperatures.

"The damage that climate change is causing and that will get worse if we fail to act goes beyond the hundreds of thousands of lives, homes and businesses lost, ecosystems destroyed, species driven to extinction, infrastructure smashed and people inconvenienced" - David Suzuki

Economic Impacts of Invasives

Invasive species are responsible for tremendous economic losses through loss in forest and agricultural productivity, spread of diseases that impact humans, among other impacts.

Nationwide, annual costs of invasive plants to the agricultural community are estimated at $2.2 billion

Humans introduce viable seeds to the Arctic on footwear
(Ware et al., 2011)

  • Increasing travel to the arctic and sub arctic areas has amplified the potential for alien species to be introduced into the area.
  • The study set out to find the diversity of seeds that are dispersed via human travel.
  • The shoes of 259 travelers were analyzed after arriving by air to Svalbard during the summer of 2008.
  • There were a total of 1019 seeds found averaging 3.9 seeds per traveler.
  • The seeds represented 53 species from 17 families. 8 of thee families were invasive worldwide and more that 80% were not native to Svalbard.
  • The arctic is one of the fastest changing ecosystems

Ocean Warming Increases Threat to Invasive Species
(Sorte et al., 2010)

Increasing temperatures due to climate change increase invasion of communities by non-native species

Most introduced species minimally declined or remained unaltered after treatments of increasing temperatures while survival of natives decreased dramatically

Invasive species have a higher tolerance to warmer temperatures than natives. Lethal temperatures for native and invasive species were 23.7C and 26.1C, respectively.

Invading species are one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of Ontario's waters and woodlands. Originating from other regions of the world, and in the absence of their natural predators or controls, invading species can have devastating effects on native species, habitats and ecosystems

Ontario Invasive Species
Awareness Program
Help track and report introduced species in Ontario via this website

"Climate change is causing a major vulnerability for certain species to the effects of invasive species," said Victor Carrion, the administrator of the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador.

Success Stories
Purple loosestrife controlGalerucella beetles have been shown to control purple loosestrife, an invasive wetland plant. The Ministry of Natural Resources has worked with the University of Guelph, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and other partners to control it.Beetles have been released in more than 400 locations across Ontario since 1993. The beetles have reduced the abundance of purple loosestrife in more than 80% of the sites.

Comment Stream

3 years ago

Wow I really love this tackk! Its clear, informative and interactive! Detailed yet concise! Great job!