Introduction of invertebrates and plants on the rise
"Although the introduction of new vertebrate species has slowed down, the entry of new invertebrate and plant species has continued to increase over recent years, with many of these coming from the aquarium trade", says Fernando Cobo, lead author of the study and director of the USC Hydrobiology Station.
The researchers are calling for this kind of trade to be regulated as a matter of "urgency", since "there is still a perception that exotic plants and invertebrates, except in exceptional cases, are inoffensive".
The biologists say that invasive species pose a "serious" threat to the conservation of biodiversity in the areas they establish themselves in, because they compete with native species for both habitat and food. "Freshwater courses have not been immune to this problem", say the authors of the study, who add that the building of large hydraulic infrastructures have made a "major" contribution to the phenomenon.
Because of its climatic and geographical characteristics, Galicia has a large wealth of freshwater species, many of which are endemic to the region. Until now, the introduction of non-indigenous species in the region has been "relatively" slow, because of its geographical isolation and the small size of its river basins, which do not allow for commercial shipping. However, over recent decades an increasing number of exotic species have appeared in Galician waters.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology