Native Species: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

What makes a species native? Are non-native species the same as invasive species? Native species are specially adapted to fit their environment and live in the same place where they originated.

Definition

You may not be living in the same place you were born, or even the same place you grew up. But you likely still call that place 'home.' Like you, other plant and animal species may live far from where they originated. Those that do live in the same place they are originally from are called native species.

Native species are considered to be native only if they originated in their location naturally, and without the involvement of human activity or intervention. This usually means that those species evolved and are adapted to living in that particular environment, but this is not always the case.

Introduced species (non-native) are those that have been introduced by humans, either accidentally or intentionally. Once a species has become too pervasive in an environment, it is said to be invasive. Both native and introduced species can be invasive.

Examples

There are two types of native species, indigenous and endemic. Indigenous species are native species that are found in multiple locations, whereas endemic species are only found in a specific, unique location. We often find endemic species in geographically isolated areas such as islands. Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands are both home to a host of endemic species that aren't found anywhere else on Earth.

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