What is a native species?

We explain what a native species is, what is an endemic and exotic species. In addition, some examples of native species.

  1. What is a native species?

It tells of a kind animal, plant or other is a native species when originated in a specific geographical location , that is, which is native to the region without human intervention of any kind. This applies even if it has subsequently been extended to other regions of the map (where, on the contrary, it will become an introduced or exotic species). They are also known as indigenous or indigenous species, but should not be confused with endemic species.

All non-domesticated living beings come from somewhere, in which their species originated, and in that place they are considered native. On the other hand, domesticated animals have become accustomed to living in contexts intervened by human beings , and this implies moving to other latitudes, which, perhaps, would never have come naturally.

Native species usually have evolutionary traits determined by their original environment of appearance , but over time, in those cases where the environment changes dramatically for long enough, changes can begin to occur, given the new dynamics of natural selection and of adaptation to their new environments.

On the other hand, the total native species make up the native fauna and flora of each region , and are usually perfectly adapted to each other, since they have been part of the same ecosystem for a long time. This causes that the destruction of native species or their replacement by other invasive ones generate unpredictable consequences on the environment , and can cause loss of biodiversity , degradation of the ecosystem and even extinctions.

  1. Endemic species

endemic species - Iguana de las Galapagos
Endemic species are never found as exotic or invasive species.

A native species should not be confused with an endemic species, although all endemic species are native. That is to say: all the species are native of some place, from which they come and in which they are perfectly integrated to the ecosystem; but endemic species are also native species that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet , that is, they are never found as exotic or invasive species, which makes them a much more fragile ecological case.

For example, the Galapagos marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), in Ecuador, are endemic (and therefore native) of these islands. In contrast, the common iguana (Iguana iguana) is native to Central and South America , but it can be found in Florida, USA, where it was feral by humans.

  1. Exotic species

Exotic species - wheat
An exotic species is usually introduced by humans.

Exotic species are just the opposite of native species, that is, they are those species that are in a geography or context outside their place of origin , where they constitute a foreign element of the ecosystem.

An exotic species is usually introduced by the human being , or it changes its habitat due to the consequences of its life (such as logging, pollution, etc.), and depending on its behavior in the new ecosystem, it can be integrated and cohabit or can spread and replace other local species, monopolizing biological niches and causing damage to biodiversity. In the latter case, we talk about invasive species, and sometimes they can become pests, also causing damage to humanity (such as the destruction of crops or the transmission of diseases). For this reason there is a strict control in the world of the species, seeds and biological products that can be taken from one country to another.

  1. Examples of native species

Native species - American crayfish
The American crayfish is native to the American southeast.

Some cases of native species are:

  • The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Native as its name indicates from South America (Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay and southern Brazil), but artificially introduced into almost every continent except Antarctica.
  • The red-eyed frog (Agalychnis callydas). Native to the American tropical forests , especially from southern Mexico to northwest Colombia.
  • The American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii). Native to the American Southeast, but introduced by the aquaculture culture in some Asian and European countries where it became an invasive species.
  • The crane of paradise (Grus paradisea). A species of wading bird native and endemic to South Africa.
  • The Moteczuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum). It is a species of tree native to Mexico and Guatemala, but it can be found as an exotic species in the United States (in Texas and New Mexico).

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