What are Neozoa? Meaning, properties, explanation, definition

Globalization and human impact are having a sometimes frightening effect on the natural habitats of plants and animals. Neozoa are a worrying development in this respect, where non-native species or animals can have harmful effects on native ecosystems. Neozoa are alien, or invasive, species that have a negative impact on native ecosystems. These are, for example, organisms that, as a result of human activities, enter foreign areas where they were not originally native.

Neozoa are thus referred to as the invaders in the plant and animal kingdoms. Deliberate release, global trade and tourism repeatedly bring alien species into areas that are then defenceless against them. This can sometimes have drastic consequences – for example, the displacement of native species.

However, many people are not aware of neozoa. The following article will therefore provide a detailed definition of the term „neozoa“. Furthermore, the various causes, effects and countermeasures for neozoa will be pointed out.

Definition of „Neozoa“

The term „neozoa“ comes from the Greek and is composed of the adjective „neo“ (meaning „new“) and the noun „zoon“ (meaning „animal“ or „living being“). Combined, „neozoa“ thus means something like „new living creature“. However, the translation, which is quite harmless in itself, is used for plants or animals that are brought into foreign ecosystems and potentially cause great damage there. They are therefore also referred to as alien and invasive species. Invasive in this context means that they displace or even actively combat native species in foreign areas. This can happen, for example, by depriving native species of their food base or even by hunting these species themselves.

Ideas about the concept of „neozoa“ date back to the 1950s. At that time, the issue of the impact of non-native species on the environment was first addressed. The term itself refers not only to animals, but especially to plants. Neozoa can be favored by globalization, world trade, transport of goods or people. They have a strong negative impact on the prevailing biodiversity.

Causes for the occurrence of „neozoa“

Neozoa are favored by different factors. However, most are directly related to human activities. Therefore, the main causes of neozoa include the following:

  • Globalization (worldwide transport of goods, trade, and movement of people favor „stowaways“ in the form of non-native plants or animals)
  • Plants, animals, and their products are now transported worldwide (for example, via ship, airplane, railroad, or vehicle)
  • Deliberate releases (for example, for ecological reasons)
  • Economic interests (for example, regarding the establishment of new hunting and fishing species)
  • Environmental changes (for example, due to climate change or changing habitats)

Examples of „neozoa“

The spread of neozoa represents a global phenomenon that has far-reaching consequences for the environment. Alien invasive species exist in water, on land and in urban areas. Within the following subsections, a few interesting examples concerning neozoa will be mentioned.

Neozoa in waters

In waters, such as lakes, rivers or oceans, neozoa are quite common. Especially here, ships provide good connectivity for humans and enable the migration of various species into ecosystems that are foreign to them. An example of neozoa in waters is the migratory mussel (Latin: „Dreissena polymorpha“). Originally from Eastern Europe, it has spread worldwide due to its excellent adaptability. At the same time, it threatens the food availability of native species. As a result, it is having a negative impact on some of the world’s water supply systems.

Neozoa on land

Neozoa can, of course, also occur on land and cause just as much damage there. A well-known example of neozoa on land is the gray squirrel (Latin: „Sciurus carolinensis“). Originally from North America, it has been spreading uncontrollably in Europe since its deliberate release. It poses a serious threat to native squirrel species. The red fire ant (Latin: „Solenopsis invicta“) also falls into this category. This in turn originates from South America and is displacing more and more native ant species as well as affecting agricultural land.

Neozoa in urban areas

Examples of neozoa in urban areas include urban pigeons (Latin: „Columba livia domestica“). These are descended from domesticated pigeon species and have adapted excellently to the human habitat. The main challenges posed by urban pigeons as neozoa are overpopulation, contamination of facades and roofs, and the spread of pathogens.

Impacts of „neozoa“ on ecosystems

Neozoa have negative impacts on ecosystems. Non-native animal or plant species can create some competition for resources, food, and habitat or breeding sites. This competition can gradually lead to the displacement of native species and thus harm biodiversity. At the same time, the structure and function of entire ecosystems can be destroyed. Taking the example of the honey bee, which is being displaced in this country by various species of wasp, the danger is that plants and trees will receive less pollination as a result, and native plant life may suffer considerably as a result. Neozoa thus pose a major threat to the stability and resilience of ecosystems.

Measures to contain and control neozoa

For the reasons mentioned above, neozoa ideally need to be prevented, contained, and controlled. Measures available for this purpose include the following:

  • Monitoring and early detection of neozoa
  • Development of control strategies for neozoa
  • Global awareness campaigns and educational programs raise public awareness
  • Regulation of international trade and transport routes
  • Legal bans on the transport of animal and plant species
  • Political cooperation at international level
  • Ongoing research

Conclusion on the topic of „neozoa“

The bottom line is that neozoa pose a serious threat to the world’s natural ecosystems. They are invasive alien plants or animals that are introduced into foreign ecosystems. They promote the displacement of native species and even their extinction. It is therefore crucial to implement measures to contain neozoa in order to preserve global biodiversity. This is the only way to protect the integrity, stability and uniqueness of the environment.

Related to the term „neozoa“ are, among others, the terms „neophytes“ as well as „neobiota“. The term „neophytes“ refers to invasive plant species. In contrast, the term „neobiota“ describes non-native organisms – for example bacteria, unicellular or multicellular organisms. Finally, neophytes and neobiota can be equally titled as neozoa. These are only specific technical terms for the term „neozoa“.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge. Mehr über BedeutungOnline.de und mich erfährst du hier.

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