12 invasive species in Argentina and their consequences

According to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Developmentand, Through the National Information System on Invasive Alien Species, more than 650 invasive species in Argentina. Many of these species were introduced by man, with the intention of obtaining economic gain, "increasing " the local level of sport hunting, or combating pests that harmed agriculture or livestock..

Although the idea of ​​greater diversity in nature may seem interesting, the introduction of exotic animals and plants, without a prior study of their environmental impact, usually threaten the survival of the country's native fauna and flora. In this new AnimalWised article, we introduce you the main 12 invasive alien species in Argentina and their consequences for the country's ecosystem.

You may also be interested: Invasive species in Spain - Examples and consequences Index
  1. Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  2. Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis)
  3. American mink (Neovison vison)
  4. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  5. Wild boar (Sus scrofa)
  6. Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
  7. Red-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus)
  8. Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  9. Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
  10. European hare (Lepus europaeus)
  11. Tamarisk (Tamarix)
  12. Giant African snail (Achatina fulica)

1. Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

The introduction of these birds is very recent in Argentina, but it already generates great concern due to its impact on fauna and flora. Native to Europe and Asia, the common starling was brought to Argentina in the last years of the 80's. Since its arrival in the country, it has expanded intensively through the countryside and has also easily adapted to large cities..

The first problem is that they generate considerable losses in agricultural production of small and medium rural producers, since it feeds on fruits and seeds. In addition, they compete for food and they displace the bakers from their territory, which are the national bird of Argentina. Therefore, its consequence goes beyond the environment, also threatening a symbol of national history..

2. The Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis)

Despite its remarkable beauty and friendly appearance, the beaver is one of the greatest threats to the ecosystem of the southernmost region of Argentina. Beavers were introduced to the province of Tierra del Fuego, in the extreme south of Argentine Patagonia, during the 40s. The intention was to promote the development of the province through the production of leather and fur.

Beavers build small dams with tree trunks in freshwater courses, where they live and protect themselves. This natural habit not only causes intense decline in native forests of the province of Tierra del Fuego, as it also interferes in its river courses. Furthermore, these mammals are predators and they feed on the native fauna from the waters of Tierra del Fuego, causing a huge imbalance in its ecosystem. Fortunately, this species did not experience a migration to other provinces.

3. American mink (Neovison vison)

The American mink was introduced in Argentina, during the decade of the 30s, with the intention of blow up your footl in the fashion industry. A cruel purpose that generated a regrettable impact on the local ecosystem. Minks are predatory animals and have contributed to the significant reduction of native birds from Patagonia Argentina, mainly of a much loved species called "Macá tobiano ".

4. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

The variety of trout popularly known as "rainbow " was introduced in Argentina during the decade of the 40s, as an attempt to promote sport fishing of this species as a tourist attraction and a possibility of economic development in different inland regions.

This objective was carried out and today Argentina is a world reference in sport fishing for trout. However, fishing was so intense in its beginnings that, today, there are numerous projects to recover the population of these fish in the lakes, rivers and lagoons of Patagonia Argentina. ¿Why recover an invasive species? Because the fishing activity generates economic benefits for various cities, as it increases national and international tourism. It is worth noting that, at present, only return fishing is allowed for all species of Patagonian trout.

Like any invasive species, rainbow trout compete for food and territory with the indigenous specimens of the regions where they are installed. Although its environmental impact has been, in part, controlled by the fishing activity itself, the introduction of rainbow trout led to the disappearance of native fish species from Argentina, like the naked mojarra.

5. Wild boar (Sus scrofa)

Wild boars are indigenous to Eurasia and North Africa. In 1905, Pedro Luro introduced these animals into the Argentine pampas, with the aim of increase your hunting level. Unfortunately, sport hunting was very popular in Argentina, and today the wild boar is still raised as a hunting ground in the Argentine pampas and part of the Patagonian region..

The wild boar population has been concentrated mainly in the center of the country, where caused enormous damage to the ground. To feed, wild boars remove surface soil with their large and powerful tusks, to "lift " possible subterranean prey. What's more, compete for territory and food with livestock and many other indigenous animals from the Argentine pampas, like the puma.

6. Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

The bullfrog, originally from North America, was introduced in Argentina during the 80's. In principle, the objective was explore its meat as a new possibility of economic development. However, the activity has not been very profitable and the bullfrogs were released. They expanded rapidly and, currently, can be found from North to South of the country.

This species is a voracious predator, feeding on amphibians, insects, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Therefore, it has generated a devastating impact on fauna and flora autochthonous from almost all Argentine provinces.

In addition, its consumption is not recommended by the Ministry of Health, since it has been discovered that many specimens carry a virus that causes intestinal bleeding, being highly dangerous to human health.

7. Red-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus)

This species of squirrel, originally from Asia, was introduced to Argentina in the 70s. It is not known who brought the first specimens to the American continent, but its introduction in River Plate lands has been quite unusual. It occurred to someone that introducing some squirrels to Buenos Aires might offer a more "picturesque " touch to the province. This is how several pairs of red-bellied squirrels were released in the town of Luján, in the north of the Buenos Aires province..

These squirrels multiplied rapidly throughout the Argentine territory, adapting to its various microclimates. So not only they competed for territory and food with native birds, as well as invaded numerous buildings to house their nests in safe environments.

8. Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

The red-eared turtle is native to warm areas of the United States and Mexico. It is not known exactly when they were introduced in Argentina, but, from the 80s, their population began to grow as they became a exotic pet quite coveted.

Unfortunately, some people do not take the responsibility of adopting and caring for a turtle, or are unaware that these animals can live for many years. For this reason, many red-eared turtles were abandoned in ponds, small lagoons or bodies of water around cities.

This was the beginning of a uncontrolled multiplication which led to a remarkable reduction of native fauna and flora. These turtles are predators of aquatic plants and animals, and compete with numerous native species for territory and food..

9. Red deer (Cervus elaphus)

The red deer is indigenous to much of the northern hemisphere, having been introduced to Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century. Again, the goal was to create a kind of large bearing for increase hunting level. The problem was that the red deer reproduced much faster than their breeders would have imagined.

Many specimens escaped and the deer population expanded throughout the country. In the present days, continue to pose a significant threat not only for livestock, but also for all native herbivorous mammals of the Argentine soil.

10. European hare (Lepus europaeus)

As its name suggests, the European hare is a typical mammal of Europe. It has been introduced in Argentina and Chile during the first years of the 20th century. It is a species of rapid reproduction, which favored its expansion throughout the South American continent. The uncontrolled increase of its population negatively impacts agricultural plantations and also reduces the availability of food for other species autochthonous.

11. Tamarisk (Tamarix)

Although it is not an animal, the tamarisk is a small tree native to the western basin of the Mediterranean Sea. They reproduce quickly in well-drained soils and under intense sunlight. For this reason, its population multiplied intensely in the province of Mendoza, in the Cuyo region of Argentina.

They are housed on the banks of reservoirs and rivers and consume a huge volume of water to grow. This generates a very negative impact for the ecosystem of the province, since it salinizes the surface layers of the soil. What's more, hurts the local economy, because it diverts the irrigation of the plantations.

12. Giant African snail (Achatina fulica)

Giant African snails generate a enormous damage for small Argentine producers that depend on subsistence agriculture. In 2016, the invasion of African snails in the Argentine provinces of Corrientes and Misiones triggered a nationwide environmental alert. However, the greatest risk of overpopulation is associated with health risk of the local population.

Many specimens of these snails carry a parasite called Strongyloides stercoralis, which is associated with development of numerous diseases, such as meningitis and strongyloidiasis. Therefore, they are considered one of the biggest pests in the tropical and subtropical regions of South America..

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