Head Chair: Margaret Cooper

The topic guide can be accessed here.

Invasive Species affecting Biodiversity

Invasive species have both helped and hurt natural environments and ecosystems. Through the introduction of invasive species, many European nations were able to grow potatoes, corn, and other crops due to the Great Exchange. Many of the western bees were once invasive species but now they help pollinate 75% of our crops. However, invasive species pose a threat to endemic and native species. Many invasive species take over native species since a characterization of an invasive species is normally their broad niche that allows them to out compete the native species. This can lead to many environmental issues and cause the ecosystem to change if there is a loss of native species that was perhaps even a keystone species.

These invasive species disrupt natural ecosystems and cause a decline in biodiversity. Biodiversity is important since it increases ecosystem productivity. Biodiversity also provides variety which is necessary in order to avoid genetic bottlenecking. Through the introduction of invasive species, it causes there to be a decrease in genetic diversity. In the Earth Summit of 1992, it was decided by 150 meeting nations that there are 6 necessary reasons why biodiversity is important; this includes: insurance, aesthetics, providing natural functions, moral reasons, ecosystem services, and continuance of the evolutionary process. However, invasive species have become more apparent as it is more accessible for people to travel and relocate species. Therefore there are more invasive species affecting our natural ecosystems.

Marine debris and Microplastics Pollution

Our oceans cover 71% of our Earth and contain 97% of Earth’s water as well as 99% of living space. However, these statistics do not prevent ocean pollution from occurring due to poor infrastructure, the lack of waste management, our increased use of plastics, and human activity. Marine debris has become an international problem due to ocean pollution, including microplastics, posing a threat to the environment, economy, and health of people.

One of the main issues with plastic in the marine environment is that it is multifaceted. Most of the time, the origin of plastics in the ocean is unknown; however, due to ocean currents the plastics accumulate far from the start point causing plastics to be found all over the world, regardless of what nation the debris has it’s origin. Therefore, since oceans cover 71% of our planet, it becomes a global issue.

Some of the main issues that will be covered on this topic are microplastics, such as microbeads, marine gyres that lead to plastic accumulation, Midway Atoll Island, and how these all affect the environment, economy, health, and livelihoods.

Margaret can be contacted at