If you've ever driven through the American Southeast, you've seen the effects of an invasive species firsthand. Kudzu is a climbing vine that was introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800s. The goal was to control erosion. But kudzu quickly took over parts of the landscape, displacing the plants that used to grow there. Kudzu is just one example. Other invasive species — like pythons in the Florida Everglades — make their way to new habitats unintentionally.
While non-native species can make some contributions to an ecosystem, they also use the food and resources that native species need to live. At the same time, invasive species often have no predators in their new environment. This means their population can grow unchecked. According to paleontologist Niles Eldredge, invasive species are contributing to the decline of 42 percent of the world's threatened and endangered species.