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Corona Virus & Invasive Species

When the Corona-virus was first introduced to the world late last year, it seemed like just another flu. A passing wind. No one had anticipated the disease would have had a fraction of the effect that it did on mankind. On one occasion, my boss even made fun of it. However, this disease has upset the entire human race. From the plummeting economy to disrupted academic and social calendars, both local and international communities have felt the ramifications. And yet, the corona-virus’ impact has extended beyond humankind and into the lives of invasive species as well, perhaps for our benefit. 

Invasive species are non-native plants, animals, or microbes that impact humans and the environment negatively. They are among one of the major threats to biodiversity, second to habitat loss. According to scientists at Oxford University, up to about 73% of pests in the US are imported via air, and are present on airline cargo or in cabins.  

But, the pandemic has made havoc of the aviation industry worldwide. There was a record breaking 65.1% decline in worldwide flights during the first week of June. Some countries like Spain reached a 98% decrease in flights in 2020, compared to the same time last year. With this decline in air travel also comes a decline in the percentage of invasive species spreading around the world, in turn increasing biodiversity. 

Could corona-virus be an invasive species in and of itself? Its consequences are evident. Though a zoonotic virus, its distribution patterns mimic those of invasive species. So perhaps the corona-virus is a blessing in disguise. After all, we cannot overlook the increase in biodiversity as a result. And so as human beings ail, biodiversity is healing. All thanks to corona-virus. 


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