Fall 2008

Seminar on Invasive Species

Listed in: Environmental Studies, as ENST-51


Ethan J. Temeles (Section 01)


Invasive species are the leading cause of extinction, accounting for 39% of known species extinctions on Earth. A recent report noted that invasive species in the United States cause major environmental damage and losses adding up to more than $138 billion per year. There are approximately 50,000 non-native species in the USA, and the number is increasing. But what, exactly, are invasive species, and why do they pose such tremendous problems for the conservation of biodiversity and the nations’ economies? In this course, we will explore the biological, economic, political, and social impacts of invasive species. We will start by examining the life history characteristics of invasive species which make them likely to become pests, and the features of habitats which make them most susceptible to invasion. We will then consider the consequences of invasive species for loss of native biodiversity and the disruption of ecosystem processes, as well as their global environmental and political impacts. Lastly, we will address the tougher issues of what can be done to halt or eradicate invasive species once they have become established, and how to identify and prevent the introduction of potential pest species. Requisite: ENST 12, Biology 23, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Temeles.