Alien Species

Alien Species

Alien species are spreading throughout the world. Some of these species pose a threat to local biodiversity and can result in major economic costs. NINA is one of the strongest professional environments in Norway that works on alien species. We study and monitor plants, fungi and animals, both on land and in the water.

What does NINA do?

NINA conducts research, risk and impact assessments, mapping and monitoring of alien species in Norway and the Arctic in particular, and is developing and evaluating measures to combat invasive species. At the same time, we are developing methods that can both streamline and improve the quality of these efforts. Effective monitoring and control of both alien species and their spread in the Norwegian environment requires a relevant and continuously updated database for identifying species and genotypes. NINA is working to develop this kind of database approach.


Wild Boar

The wild boar is considered an alien species in Norway

Alien hitchhikers

Plant imports are a major pathway for the proliferation of alien species into Norway

Pink salmon

NINA is monitoring the distribution of pink salmon in Norway


Ingeborg Palm Helland
Research director - Aquatic biodiversity

Jørgen Rosvold
Ass. Research Director - Terrestrial biodiversity

What is an alien species?

The term "alien species" includes all species that have been propagated outside their natural range by means of human activity. This also includes subspecies, local varieties of species, and man-made varieties such as livestock breeds and cultivated plants. The spread is not limited to national borders, but can also include spreading within the country, such as the launching of pike in waterways where the species could not spread to itself.

Alien species harm local nature in several ways: For example, new species coming in can change the environment and outperform indigenous species. This is especially critical if it affects species that are already threatened for other reasons. Alien species can also bring their own stowaways, such as parasites and new diseases. They can also interfere with indigenous species and in some cases reduce overall genetic diversity.

It can be hard to define an alien organism, especially when this applies to variants of a species. In order to best map and monitor alien species, we need a good overview of the natural diversity of Norway to begin with and the history of a species: For example, how do we treat the return of wild boar to Norway after a period of national extinction? Or the roe deer that first wandered into the country in the 20th century?

Whatever the reason for the spread of a new species, it is important for the management of nature that they are monitored, and that we investigate the effect on indigenous nature. Many species will be impossible to remove from ecosystems once they have established themselves. So the most effective measures are those of early detection and mapping of the spread for continued monitoring and management.

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

NINA is an independent foundation for nature research and research on the interaction between human society, natural resources and biodiversity.
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