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Invasive Species Within South Florida Coastal Ecosystems: An Example of a Marginalized Environmental Resource Base

  • Christopher MakowskiEmail author
  • Charles W. Finkl
Chapter
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Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 29)

Abstract

Bioinvasions from exotic flora and fauna are a constant threat to the ecological balance that allows coastal ecosystems to maintain homeostasis. Throughout the world, invasive species are responsible for a multitude of impacts upon the coastal zone, some of which include outcompetetion and displacement of native species, biochemical degradation of water resources, destabilization of the soil, overexertion of carrying capacity limits, and the overall collapse of indigenous flora-fauna boundaries. South Florida is a prime example where the successful establishment and dispersal of numerous invasive species has occurred through human disruption and interference of the natural coastal ecosystems. This chapter focuses on five species of invasive vegetation (i.e., Australian pine [Casuarina equisetifolia], Brazilian pepper [Schinus terebinthifolius], broadleaf paperbark tree [Melaleuca quinquenervia], water hyacinth [Eichhornia crassipes], hydrilla [Hydrilla verticillata]) and five species of invasive wildlife (i.e., red lionfish [Pterois volitans], marine cane toad [Bufo marinus], red imported fire ant [Solenopsis invicta], Nile monitor [Varanus niloticus], Burmese python [Python molurus bivittatus]) that have contributed to the profound ecological breakdown of a vulnerable coastal region. By reviewing how different invasive species marginalize the environmental resource base of South Florida, a spotlight is then shone on how invasions can destroy coastal biodiversity worldwide, as well as expose the role of humans, not only as the main introducing factor of alien species, but perhaps as the most invasive of all species on planet Earth.

Keywords

Bioinvasion Alien fauna Biodiversity Beach vegetation Indigenous flora Biogeography Florida Everglades Environmental conservation Ecological change 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to graciously thank Dr. K.W. Rusenko (Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton, Florida, USA; https://www.gumbolimbo.org/) and Dr. A.L. Gardner (South Florida Wildlife Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; http://www.southfloridawildlifecenter.org/) for their expertise and resources in compiling this chapter.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Education and Research Foundation (CERF)Coconut CreekUSA
  2. 2.Coastal Education and Research Foundation (CERF)AshevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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