When one hears the words “invasive species” in the news today, it is usually referring to wild plants or animals that humans have introduced (accidentally or on purpose) to an area where they did not previously live. Recent examples from the Northeastern US include the emerald ash borer (a beetle), Hydrilla (an alga), and snakehead (a fish). A surprising number of the plants and animals we see every day—from slugs to starlings—are not native to New York State. These and many other invasive species can cause enormous environmental and economic damage. We hear much less, however, about what such invasions mean for evolution or what the study of evolution can tell us that might help mitigate or prevent the damage they cause.
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