SPEZIALE Karina Lilian
Protecting invaders for profit
LAMBERTUCCI, S.A., SPEZIALE, K.L.
AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE
Año: 2011 vol. 332 p. 35 - 35
Protecting invaders for profit.Humans have spread species to non-native environments for generations. In turn, these species can become invasive, threatening native species. There has been much discussion about the best way to control invasive species and protect native species (1). However, one point has been overlooked: In some cases, human commercial activity values invasive species more than the native species, and dangerous behavior ensues. For example, trout (e.g., Salvelinus sp.) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) were introduced to Argentina and Chile from the United States and Europe about 100 years ago for fi shing and hunting purposes. Today, these species are invasive, but they represent an economic resource for tourism and sport (2, 3). Because of their commercial value, the Argentinean and Chilean governments maintain healthy populations by setting restrictions on hunting and fi shing seasons and the number of fi sh allowed per day. Similarly, the Argentinean government allows local people to profi t by hunting and selling the invasive hare (Lepus europaeus) by millions to Europe (4). In Patagonia, many farmers hunt or poison native guanacos (Lama guanicoe) to avoid competition with nonnative livestock or red deer. Some nonnative species are even advertised as ?typical? in the countries where they are introduced. As a result, the citizens of southern South America do not consider invasive species a problem (5). It is impractical to eradicate some invasive species. However, by valuing them more than native species, we are promoting their expansion and endangering the native species. The discussion about invasive species must focus on the prevention of their social and commercial overvaluation. We must also educate both local communities and governments about the importance of maintaining and recovering native species populations. In the long run, the negative consequences of species introductions are greater than their short-term commercial benefi ts (6).