An invasive (exotic, alien or introduced) species is any species of organism (plant, animal, fungus, etc) that is introduced into an area outside of where it occurs naturally and as a result it becomes damaging to the new ecosystem.  Most invasive species can grow out of control when they are introduced to an area because there are fewer predators to keep the population controlled. This excessive growth of invasive populations can use resources and nutrients that are required for native species, and it becomes more difficult for native species to compete. Invasive plants can take over other vegetation by blocking out sunlight or using up vital nutrients. In many forests of the U.S, a vine called kudzu can grow about 2 feet a day. It climbs over trees and eventually blocks out all sunlight and reduces the ability of the tree to make food. Through this process, kudzu can kill hundreds of acres of forest. 


A well-known invasive species in Louisiana is the nutria. Nutria eat huge amounts of vegetation a day. Unlike similar native animals, like the muskrat, Nutria also eat the root systems of trees – especially young trees. This makes it difficult for young trees, such as the Bald Cypress, to reach adulthood. There are predators in Louisiana that will eat nutria, but because these animals eat so much and produce so quickly, the few predators that eat them are not able to control the populations.