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Over half of US National Parks are at risk of biodiversity loss

Experts in conservation, invasive species and park management recently published a study in the journal Biological Invasions about how US National parks are struggling to protect their national habitats and wildlife. The spread of invasive species is to blame. To overcome this challenge, the authors recommend coordination among stakeholders and the appropriate use of emerging technologies.

The paper presents a detailed review of the invasive species and their management by the National Park Service. The invaders include mammals such as rats, cats, and feral pigs; aquatic species like lake trout and the quagga mussel; and reptiles, including the Burmese python. Statistics reveal that of the 1,409 reported populations of 311 invasive animal species in national parks, there are management plans for 23% and only 11% are being contained.

The authors claim that coordinated action, public engagement and partnerships with neighbouring agencies and invasive species networks could help parks meet the challenge. The National Park Service would also benefit from the implementation of an invasive animal program that includes structured decision support, adaptive management and monitoring, and by capitalizing on the opportunities that exist through the appropriate use of new technologies.

More information about the findings is available at Island Conservation’s blog, BBC News, or at the journal Biological Invasions.

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