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Term Invasive species

Species capable of surviving and reproducing outside its natural distribution area, altering the structure and ecological processes of the area where it settles and threatening biodiversity. It differs from an introduced species because it is more aggressive in terms of expansion of its habitat and its harmfulness to the environment.

A study conducted in 2001 by the Directorate of Wildlife of the Dominican Republic recorded in the country a total of 138 invasive species, of which 59 were plants, 4 mushrooms, 38 invertebrates, 15 fish, 2 amphibians, 3 reptiles, 6 birds and 11 mammals. Currently, there has been a report of at least 186 exotic invasive species in the country. Recently two invasive species, the hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) and the lionfish (pterois volitans), have received special attention because of their strong survival mechanisms, which facilitate their rapid reproduction and spread. 9

The hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), an aquatic weed originating in China and Siberia, presents a threat to coastal lagoons of the country, especially in the Laguna Limon. This aquatic weed is competing strongly with species of flora and fauna in the lagoon, as it can grow some 2.5 to 3 centimeters per day. To mitigate the damage caused by the hydrilla, the Ministry of the Environment is introducing herbivorous carp fish imported from the United States that feed on grass and are an effective biological control of this invasive species. Likewise, the lionfish, a species originating in the Indo-pacific region that has spread throughout the Caribbean region, was introduced in the Atlantic approximately 16 years ago. The first reported sighting on the Dominican coast was documented in 2008, and since then the fish’s habitat has expanded rapidly and can be found throughout the southern coast of the country.10

Its great dispersion in the Caribbean area, the lower Antilles and Mexico is attributed to the fact that the lionfish adapts easily; it does not have natural predators in the Caribbean, and it reproduces rapidly (the female can lay up to 30,000 eggs three times per month, which are released in areas of strong currents so as to guarantee an effective dispersion). In addition, the lionfish is a voracious predator: an adult can consume 20 small fish every half an hour, endangering the ecosystems of corals. Although mass capture and consumption of the lionfish is being promoted in the country, there is really no solution to completely counteract the invasion of this species. For this reason, many experts agree that it is likely to be the most destructive marine animal invasion in history.11

9Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. Áreas Protegidas y Biodiversidad: Especies Invasoras [en línea]>  (Accessed: March 12, 2011)

10Guerrero, K.; Franco, L.F.  First record of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) for the Dominican Republic. Aquatic Invasions. 2008, 3(2), 267-268.   

11Albins, M.A.; Hixon, M.A. Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans reduce recruitment of Atlantic coral-reef fishes 2008. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 2008, 367, 233-238.


Additional Information
LinkLista de especies invasoras en la Republica Dominicana
Topic  BiodiversityForest resourcesEnvironmental managementProtected areas