Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A plan will combat the threat of the coypu, the last great animal to invade the ecosystem

The coypu, a large herbivorous rodent similar to rats and otters that is typical of aquatic environments native to South America, has become the most recent and worrisome invasive alien species. The damage to crops in the Girona region will force the Catalan government to present a startling plan to control its expansion.

This is indicated in the presentation of the new list of exotic species in Catalonia (Exocat), where currently 1,678 exotic species have been inventoried. Of which 198 are aggressive (12%).

In Catalonia, 630 more exotic species have been recorded than 9 years ago; And of these, 293 (46%) are new introductions (the rest are due for better knowledge), so it is estimated that an average of 30 exotic species enter each year, according to estimates by CREF director Joan Pino.

fast moving rat

One of the greatest concerns is now focused on the Coypu (myocaster coypus, This rodent was introduced to France only ten years ago and has rapidly spread to the Girona regions (Emparda, Girones, Pla de l’Estanie and Garrotxa). It was widely used in the fur industry in France, before some specimens escaped from the fields.

Coypu are especially abundant in areas of wetlands, ponds or streams, and can even travel by sea. The animal is causing significant damage to rice crops, among other effects, for which the Catalan government will present a plan tomorrow to prevent its expansion.

early warning

The Catalan administration wants to address the problem to prevent it from becoming a new case in which it is overwhelmed by an “invasion” of an alien species.

Experts see the need for extreme vigilance to prevent the entry of new colonizing alien species, but in many cases trying to eradicate them can be a difficult or confusing task once they have settled and become strong in an area.

For this reason, it is considered a priority to confront the problem, stop their progress, prevent economic, ecological and health damage and keep them away from areas of greatest natural value in order to save the species that harbor them.

This has been pointed out by the government’s environment secretary, Anna Barnadas, for whom the central objective will not be to “eradicate” invasive alien species, as established by state law, but to avoid damage to the natural environment and production. To control their population. For example, that of the primary sector in Girona according to the problem raised by Coypu. The Catalan government will double its budget for this purpose (from one to three million euros).

‘Success Story’, Asian Hornet

document Exotic Species in Catalonia (Creef and the Department d’Axio Climatica) recommends reinforcing all rapid detection mechanisms with alert networks, but admits that eliminating them may be an impossible task, as in the case of Asian hornets Has been observed. This is a very clear example of how efforts to eradicate a species now show no signs of success; And, at most, all that can be tried is to avoid further damage.

Joan Pino points out that the main problem with invasive alien species is that they are often detected too late and the response to trying to tackle the problem is when it is almost impossible to find a solution to prevent their implantation. “We can consider this only when the species is detected at an early stage, the stage in which it has not yet stabilized,” he adds.

When a certain level of expansion and distribution has been reached in the area, “its eradication is very difficult, costly and practically unfeasible,” he explains.

In this context, the only thing that can be considered is to “exercise ‘some control’ over invasive alien species that pose a greater economic, ecological or health risk.” , well-protected natural areas or rare habitats.” The best solution is to “reduce their impact” on the economy and health.

Argentine parrots


For the most part, plants

Most of these exotic species in Catalonia are plants (1119), but there are also 177 species of birds, 80 aquatic invertebrates, 37 fish, 30 reptiles, 17 algae, 11 mammals, 8 marine fish, 9 diatoms, 7 amphibians and 2 mushrooms. . ,
Travel, climate change or ballast water from ships are some favorable conditions for the mobility of these species.
The inventory, in addition to invasive species (12% of the 1,678 exotic ones), also distinguishes other categories of species with invasive potential: 509 (30%) are already established in the area but have not expanded, 631 ( 38%) corresponds to those introduced but without stable populations; and in another 340 (20%) there is only evidence that they have been introduced but little is known about it.
Exotic species show greater potential for adaptation to metropolitan, populated areas, regions with greater change, as well as irrigated areas and relatively mild temperatures.


The list also includes a blacklist of invasive species, to highlight those that should be addressed by policies and action measures to prevent further spread.

In recent years there has been a strong establishment of aquatic species, including amphibians, as well as insects, which have emerged victorious in the face of efforts to control these populations: and not only the Asian hornet, but also the tiger mosquito, the red mite, (the beetle that attacks palm trees) or boxwood moth.

These species arrived in Catalonia a few years ago but in a short time they have colonized the region in a remarkable way and caused significant economic, ecological and health damage.


Asian wasp


examples of rapid expansion

Some birds have also experienced rapid expansion, such as the Argentine parrot (with green wings and brown chest) or the Kramer parrot (with yellow-green feathers).

In the same way, the colonization of mosquito fish (Gambusia) stands out, a small fish that moves in coastal waters and is considered to be inedible. “It cannot be erased, it is impossible; Because if it were to happen, it would have a huge impact on the ecosystem because it has already replaced the native fish”, explains Pino.

to the loss of native species

Sometimes this expansion is to the detriment of native species. This is the case of the ferret, a small omnivorous fish that is considered one of the most endangered animals and that lives in coastal wetlands, or the samaruc, a freshwater fish that’s gone from being a source of food for many birds Is. In the early 20th century aiguamoles’ were a species taken over by the mosquito fish (Gambusia).


American crab, animal that has colonized the Ebro delta

In the case of the American crab, which has colonized the Ebro delta, the only solution is to “learn to live with it,” says Pino, “and try to keep the American crab separate from the Iberian crab.” In this sense, and for this purpose, some interesting experiments have been developed in Málaga where Iberian crabs are kept in some river headwaters separated from the American crab downstream. For this reason, “a physical barrier was built in the river bed to separate the two populations.”

It is also necessary to continue fighting the Asian Hornet. But the best option here would be to help growers keep their hives away from the effects of this species, with the hope that it will slowly integrate into the ecosystem until, eventually, the predator appears. give, such as the European honey hawk. , so that these populations are balanced.

Strategies are currently available to deal with a small number of highly problematic species such as zebra mussels, Asian hornets or pampas grass.

Hope sometimes lies in the finding that populations of many invasive species, after a strong breakup and initial expansion, become so numerous that they eventually become an abundant resource for other species that are their predators. .

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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