We are all surrounded by aliens; animals, plants, fungi & micro-organisms. Species at a certain place not occurring by nature but due to human assistance can be called aliens. Small actions can have severe effects decades later. Few released and escaped North America Raccoons made it across many European countries, with comparably few raccoons expanding to maybe 1.400.000 individuals only in Germany.
Aliens travel on our global transport systems. Species are either intentionally or unintentionally introduced via industrial goods as hitchhikers or as escapees, e.g. from botanical gardens. But we also transport species on ourselves, e.g. on shoes and velcro tape.
There is a lot of research about the impacts of those introductions. For most alien species we don’t know their impact (yet). A certain subset of aliens have negative ecological and/or economic impacts. Damages and management of aliens cost probably more than 1 trillion euros per year globally.
There are places with more aliens than native plants. But since we only know probably 10-20% of all species on earth and the almost unknown microbial world there will be also many aliens not detected yet.
Our actions lead to a biotic homogenization of the planet. We have to learn from the past to manage the future of the planet.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx Dr. Marten Winter is a trained macroecologist, music nerd, drummer. In his professional life, he leads the Leipzig based sDiv, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Halle-Jena-Leipzig. After doing his Master at the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, his PhD at the University of Bern (CH), and several Postdocs (e.g. in Fribourg, CH) he started working at sDiv in 2012.
In his daily job, he serves two functions. As a scientist, he loves maps and aliens. He tries to reveal patterns and processes of species invasions across space and time. He also works on nature conservation questions, such as why and how we should conserve evolutionary history. As an expert of biological invasions, he served in the past as appraiser in governmental hearings and media, such as TV and Radio. At the end of the day he usually talks about the beauty of nature, either in reality or being expressed in music by his former band Neun Welten or his new band WAL (wal-band.bandcamp.com). This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx