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E-trade might be contributing to the spread of invasive plants

If you’re searching for exotic plants, online auction platforms like eBay have made it a lot easier to find what you want. Unfortunately, those platforms have also made it easier for exotic invasive species to find their way into various countries and be even more widely distributed than they are through standard forms of transport. And, as a group of researchers from Switzerland discovered, many offers originate from countries that have strong restrictions on invasive species imports.

To find out how much e-commerce is contributing to the spread of invasive species, four Swiss researchers monitored eBay and several other e-commerce sites for several months. The researchers were especially interested in finding out whether they could identify species that might eventually become invasive. Their results were reported in the October issue of Conservation Biology.

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