All About Invasive Species

Coordination and collaboration have been building in the National Park Service (NPS) and the federal government to meet the issue of invasive species head on. But managing invasive species is a complex issue due to regional differences in species, adapting strategies to fit different ecosystems, and raising awareness about the harm they can cause.

large colony of red ants float on sticks in pond
What Are Invasive Species?

Learn the difference between invasive, exotic, and native species.

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How Invasive Species Spread

Invasive species spread in a variety of ways, even sometimes on our boots.

person holds shovel and stands in forest between two plants in buckets
Law and Policy

Several laws and policies direct the National Park Service to manage invasive species.

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Early Detection Rapid Response

The most effective, most efficient way to address invasive species is to find them early.

Additional Invasive Species Facts

  • Invasive species thrive because they outcompete native species.

  • Invasive species often destroy habitat, affecting the places where other plants and animals naturally live.
  • The NPS also manage invasive diseases in national parks.
  • Many invasive species are introduced through the movement of humans, either intentionally (e.g., through the release of an unwanted pet into the wild) or unintentionally (e.g., through the soles of shoes). Learn how to fight the spread on the Prevention page under What You Can Do.

Although there is some overlap, invasive species are generally put into three groups: terrestrial plants, terrestrial animals, and aquatic species.

  • Invasive lionfish swimming near a reef

    Learn more about invasive aquatic species

  • An invasive plant known as Tree of Heaven. All credit to Richard Gardner, UMES,

    Learn more about invasive terrestrial plant species

  • Feral pigs wallowing in the mud

    Learn more about invasive terrestrial animal species

Photo credits (left to right): lionfish credit to NPS, Tree of Heaven photo credit to Richard Gardner, UMES,, feral swine photo credit to Missouri Department of Conservation

Last updated: April 29, 2021