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Invasive Species Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Patrick Zedrow

Patrick has taught intermediate science, language arts, and technology. He has a master's degree in educational technology.

Invasive species can disrupt the delicate balance of an ecosystem, causing great harm. In this lesson, we will learn what invasive species are, how they happen, and their effect on nature.

What Is an Invasive Species?

After many years of owning a few pet goldfish, you decide to set them free in a nearby pond. The following year, you glance into the pond and you see goldfish everywhere! What happened?

If you set an animal free into the wild, it could have a huge impact on the environment around it. For example, when you set some goldfish free into a pond or lake, they immediately start eating everything they can, which means less food for other fish. This is just one example of an invasive species, which is a living thing that gets introduced to a new place that it does not normally belong to and to which it typically causes harm. If you look at the word ''invasive,'' it may remind you of the word ''invade.'' This makes sense because an animal can invade an area, dominate it, and leave very little for other living things to survive.

Once introduced, invasive species can take over an area as long as there is a large food supply and no danger.
Invasive species

How Do They Affect Nature?

Think about all of the many working parts of a car. If you take one part away from the car, it might break down and stop running. This is very similar to how an ecosystem works. An ecosystem is a big community of living things and their physical environment. If an animal or plant dies off, that could mean danger for the rest of the ecosystem. For example, what would happen to the rabbit population if grass and leafy greens started to disappear? Let's see.

Let's say a new animal, ''animal X,'' moves in. Animal X also eats grass and leafy greens. Now rabbits are in competition with animal X. If animal X starts eating the rabbits' supply of grass and leafy greens, that means some rabbits will either starve, move away, or simply not grow in population.

Animal X is living very comfortably, and before you know it, has taken over the whole area! As a result, rabbits have vanished. But wait! Foxes hunt rabbits and squirrels for food, so now the foxes must eat only squirrels. As a result, the squirrel population is decreasing too! Do you see the chain reaction that could happen as a result of an invasive species? They hurt the biodiversity of an environment; this means that there isn't as much of a wide variety of living things anymore.

Invasive fish can take over quickly, especially if they eat a lot and are durable.
Fish

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