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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account