Introduced Species vs. Invasive Species

What's the Difference?

Introduced species and invasive species are both terms used to describe non-native species that have been introduced to a new environment. However, there is a key difference between the two. Introduced species are intentionally or unintentionally brought into a new habitat by humans, often for beneficial purposes such as agriculture or landscaping. These species may or may not have a negative impact on the ecosystem. On the other hand, invasive species are introduced species that rapidly spread and outcompete native species, causing harm to the environment, economy, or human health. Invasive species often lack natural predators or competitors in their new habitat, allowing them to thrive and disrupt the balance of the ecosystem.


AttributeIntroduced SpeciesInvasive Species
DefinitionSpecies that have been intentionally or accidentally brought into a new habitat by humansSpecies that are non-native to an ecosystem and have the potential to cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health
OriginCan be native or non-native to the habitat they are introduced toAlways non-native to the ecosystem they invade
ImpactMay have positive, negative, or neutral effects on the ecosystemUsually have negative effects on the ecosystem, often outcompeting native species
ControlMay or may not require control measures depending on their impactOften require control measures to prevent or minimize their negative impact
SpreadMay or may not spread rapidly in the new habitatTend to spread rapidly and establish large populations in the new ecosystem
RegulationMay be regulated by laws and regulations in some regionsOften subject to strict regulations and management efforts to prevent their spread

Further Detail


Introduced species and invasive species are terms often used in the field of ecology to describe the impact of non-native organisms on ecosystems. While both types of species are introduced to new environments, they differ in their behavior and impact on the native flora and fauna. In this article, we will explore the attributes of introduced species and invasive species, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Introduced Species

Introduced species, also known as non-native or exotic species, are organisms that have been intentionally or unintentionally brought into a new environment by human activities. These species can be introduced for various reasons, such as for agricultural purposes, as pets, or for aesthetic reasons. Some introduced species may have positive effects on the ecosystem, while others can have negative consequences.

One attribute of introduced species is their ability to adapt to new environments. They may possess traits that allow them to thrive in the introduced habitat, such as resistance to local diseases or predators. This adaptability can sometimes lead to successful establishment and population growth.

Introduced species can also have economic benefits. For example, certain introduced plant species may be cultivated for their commercial value, contributing to local economies. Additionally, introduced species can enhance biodiversity by adding new species to an ecosystem, potentially increasing ecological resilience.

However, introduced species can also have negative impacts on native species and ecosystems. They may outcompete native species for resources such as food, water, and habitat, leading to a decline in native populations. Introduced species can also disrupt ecological processes, such as pollination or seed dispersal, which can have cascading effects on the entire ecosystem.

Furthermore, introduced species can introduce new diseases or parasites to native populations that may not have evolved defenses against them. This can result in the decline or extinction of vulnerable native species. In some cases, introduced species can even alter the physical characteristics of an ecosystem, such as changing soil composition or water quality.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are a subset of introduced species that have the ability to rapidly spread and dominate new environments, often causing significant harm to native species and ecosystems. Unlike introduced species, invasive species have a higher likelihood of negatively impacting the ecosystem they invade.

One attribute of invasive species is their high reproductive capacity. They can reproduce quickly and produce large numbers of offspring, allowing them to rapidly colonize new areas. This reproductive advantage often leads to population explosions, outcompeting native species for resources and space.

Invasive species also tend to have aggressive growth habits and competitive advantages over native species. They may have traits that allow them to outgrow or outcompete native plants, such as rapid growth rates, efficient nutrient uptake, or the ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. These attributes enable invasive species to form dense monocultures, displacing native vegetation and reducing biodiversity.

Another attribute of invasive species is their ability to escape natural predators or diseases that would normally regulate their populations in their native range. Without these natural checks and balances, invasive species can experience unchecked population growth, further exacerbating their negative impact on native ecosystems.

Invasive species can also alter ecosystem processes and functions. For example, they may disrupt nutrient cycling, fire regimes, or hydrological patterns. These changes can have far-reaching consequences for the entire ecosystem, affecting not only native species but also human communities that depend on these ecosystems for various services.

Efforts to control or eradicate invasive species can be challenging and costly. Once established, invasive species often require extensive management strategies, such as chemical treatments, mechanical removal, or biological control methods, to mitigate their impact. However, complete eradication is often difficult to achieve, and the focus is often on managing their populations to minimize their negative effects.


Introduced species and invasive species share the common characteristic of being non-native to an ecosystem. However, their attributes and impacts on native species and ecosystems differ significantly. Introduced species can have both positive and negative effects, depending on their adaptability and interactions with native species. In contrast, invasive species are characterized by their ability to rapidly spread, dominate, and harm native ecosystems. Understanding the attributes of introduced and invasive species is crucial for effective management and conservation efforts to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

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