Cold War conferred odd benefit, it limited species invasion

The study found that post World War II, when trade and travel between eastern and western Europe were minimal, there were far fewer introduced bird species.

"Last year, people worldwide celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War," said Susan Shirley, research associate in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University (OSU).

"This signified a time of renewed freedom and opportunities for the countries of eastern Europe. However, those new opportunities brought new challenges from an unexpected source."

The problem, Shirley said, is that there's often a correlation between politics, trade and ecosystem function.

"Global trade is a real concern for invasive species, and the lessons we can learn from the Cold War offer a warning flag to developing countries that are now expanding in an international economy," Shirley said.

Control or eradication of invading species is extremely difficult and expensive, Shirley said, and prevention of animal importation is the only sure approach to address this problem.

Even though birds, in theory, need to pay little attention to international borders, in fact they tend to stay in native habitats. However, they sometimes establish populations in new locales if they are brought there, Shirley said.

"Traditionally, we don't hear much about birds as an invasive species, but they can be," she said, according to an OSU release.
"The common mynah, a subtropical bird, is a generalist predator and a crop pest and has been included on a list of the 100 worst invasive species," Shirley said.
The study was published in Biological Conservation.


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