From The Apple Snail To The Blue Crab: The Invasive
Environment

From the apple snail to the blue crab: the invasive species that threaten Spain

The Life Invasaqua project publishes a calendar to raise awareness about the damage that these species cause to the natural environment.

A young man holds a blue crab.

apple snail, blue crab, raccoon or walleye make up some of the invasive alien species (IAS) that wear their best clothes to ‘pose’ on a calendar with a single objective: to raise awareness throughout the year about the damage they cause to the natural environment.

This initiative, framed within the European Life Invasaqua project on invasive exotic species of freshwater and estuarine systems, intends, month by month, “raise awareness and publicize all the actions we have carried out since its inception”, explains the Eph the researcher of the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC) Anabel Perdices.

A guide, an exhibition at the MNCN-CSIC or IAS collections in different sections of rivers in both Spain and Portugal constitute, among other activities, some of the moments that appear in this almanac of Life Invasaqua, a project coordinated by the University Murcia to advance awareness and training on this environmental problem in Spain and Portugal.

The apple snail, which illustrates the month of January, “alters the ecosystems where it appears and competes with native species for resources, space, food…” and, by having a rapid and very numerous reproduction, “increases its density in natural communities by changing substrates and water conditions”, indicates.

In the case of the raccoon, the protagonist of one of the winning drawings in a contest held in schools in Murcia, “it does not modify the entire ecosystem, but It is a problem for human health because it transmits rabies.among other diseases.

The choice of the different species that appear in the calendar, says the researcher, has been motivated because “all the groups of animals with which we work in the project are represented: fish, vertebrates and invertebrates, plants and fungi”.

Invasive exotic species, recalls Perdices, are those that “are not native to a certain area, in this case the Iberian Peninsula, but come from different geographical areas” and are invasive because, through the action of man, “appear in places where they could not reach by their natural means and cause damage to ecosystems and native species found in the habitat where they invade the territory”.

The alteration of the ecosystem, Perdices specifies, is a characteristic “in general shared by all invaders”, although “there are others that also have an economic component, such as the zebra mussel, because it clogs hydroelectric pipes and pipes or from water pipes” and, in addition, some “transmit diseases”.

The calendar, according to the researcher, will be sent to administrations, the scientific community…, as well as to “schools that have had some relationship with LifeInvasaqua, such as those that have participated in a short film contest in Portugal or in a cartoon contest at the University of Murcia ”.

Students in general do know these species because nowadays numerous houses have children of different ages who have pets”, says Perdices, who adds that “the Florida tortoise, the gambusia or the raccoon are familiar to them”.

The MNCN-CSIC scientist warns that now a time is coming when gifts are more present “You have to try not to buy pets” and ensure that, if you want to have them at home, “they are not invasive or potentially invasive species”.

“We must have a responsibility with the animals we acquire and know that when a pet is acquired we will have to accompany it throughout its life”, Anabel Perdices has concluded.

In Life Invasaqua, which has the support of the Biodiversity Foundation, the universities of Santiago de Compostela, Navarra and Évora (Portugal), the Iberian Society of Ichthyology (Sibic), the IUCN, the MNCN, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Center for Sciences of the Sea and the Environment (MARE) and the Portuguese Association for Environmental Education (Aspea) and EFEverde of the EFE Agency.