TABLE 20–1 Proportion of Alien Plants in the Vascular Flora of Selected U.S. National Parksa

National Park

Alien Species (% of total)

Sequoia-Kings Canyon


Rocky Mountain




Mount Ranier




Great Smoky Mountain




Channel Islands






Hawaii Volcanoes


aFrom Loope, in press a.

grow in Hawaii, and at least 700 of these are reproducing successfully and maintaining populations in the field (Smith, 1985; Wester, in press). At the same time, more than 200 endemic species are believed to be extinct, and another 800 are endangered (Jacobi and Scott, in press). Most sites below 500 meters elevation, and many higher ones, are entirely dominated by alien species (Moulton and Pimm, 1986).

Similar patterns of introduction of alien insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and birds have been described (Carson, in press; Moulton and Pimm, 1986). The birds are probably the best documented (Moulton and Pimm, 1986; Olson and James, 1982), although mammals are the most spectacular (from 1 native bat to at least 18 species of alien mammals). At least 86 species of land birds are known to have been present in Hawaii 2,000 years ago, and at least 68 of them were endemic passerines. Forty-five species, including 30 passerines, disappeared around the time of Polynesian colonization; another 11 have disappeared since Europeans arrived; and several more are on the verge of extinction (Moulton and Pimm, 1986; Stone, 1985). In contrast, at least 50 species of alien passerines have become established since 1780. Even casual observers of lower-elevation birds in Hawaii have noted a kaleidoscope of shifting dominance by different species of alien birds over the past 30 years; the one constant has been the near absence of natives.

This pattern of successful invasion by cosmopolitan species and the decline of certain native species is not unique to Hawaii. A similar conversion of native-dominated to alien-dominated ecosystems occurs on isolated islands in all the oceans—from the Galapagos to New Zealand to Diego Garcia to Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena (Bramwell, 1979; Carlquist, 1974; King, 1984; Wace and Oilier, 1982). In many cases, the successful invaders are identical—goats (Capra hircus) and guava (Psidium guajava and P. cattleianum) are problems in Hawaii, the Galapagos, and the Rodrigues Islands in the Indian Ocean.

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