In light of the abundance of scientific evidence claiming that invasive species can have a detrimental effect on both biodiversity and human health, there still exist groups of people, even within academia, who believe that invasive species are not a concern.
With a leap of faith, U of T master’s student Darwin Sodhi suggested that the media can help scientists improve communication of their research and ideas.
As fake scientific news gains traction, true scientific facts become more misconstrued. In addition, Sodhi notes the challenges faced in determining whether scientific funding should prioritize health care or ecology, and how, in some cases, that may lead to fewer resources being available for biodiversity research.
At face value, this prioritization appears sensible because discoveries related to health would directly affect human beings. However, this overlooks the impact of invasive species on biodiversity and its immense effects on the human population.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, between five and 20 per cent of all non-native species become problematic, or invasive.
A paper from last year noted that invasive species significantly affect and threaten the productivity of ecosystems through the alteration of biodiversity. This includes our food systems that rely on pollination.
Because invasive species can threaten resources such as food, water, fuel, and traditional medicines for millions of people, it may be high time scientists find more simplistic methods of articulating the essence and impact of invasive species research — and why people should care about it.
Sodhi believes that when reporting science stories, the media could improve on asking the right questions and validating sources. He also acknowledges that some science has become too complex that scientists find it difficult to provide simplistic answers to general audiences.
The current generation may not have to deal with the negative impact of biodiversity loss from invasive species and climate change, but future generations will be burdened with the consequences of our negligence.
Sodhi, however, is holding onto positivity: he believes that society has it in them to acquire a sense of biodiversity consciousness.
“People do care about biodiversity and show genuine interest,” said Sodhi. “[My friends and I] go hiking in the summer and [when I name species,] they are like, ‘Oh my gosh this is cool.’ And [they all] can walk around Toronto and point out the invasive species I work on.”