What is the Difference Between Exotic and Endemic Species

The key difference between exotic and endemic species is that exotic species are species that belong to some other area but are introduced in another foreign area, while endemic species are the species that belong to an area where they are particularly found.

In biological classification, a species is a group of organisms comprised of related organisms that have common characteristics and are capable of interbreeding. This biological concept of species is commonly used in biology and related fields. However, the ecological species concept describes species as a group of organisms framed by the resources that they depend on. These species help to define an entire ecosystem. Exotic and endemic species are two types of very important species that living in an ecosystem.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is an Exotic Species  
3. What is an Endemic Species
4. Similarities – Exotic and Endemic Species
5. Exotic vs Endemic Species in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Exotic vs Endemic Species

What is an Exotic Species?

Exotic species are species that belong to some other area but are introduced in another foreign area. These species usually live outside their native geographical region. Most probably, these species have arrived in a foreign region due to deliberate or accidental human activity. Normally, non-native species have various effects on the local ecosystem. If the introduced species become established and spread beyond the place of introduction, they are considered naturalized.

Figure 01: Exotic Species

The human-caused introduction of species is completely different from biological colonization since biological colonization is due to natural factors such as storms and rafting. The impact of introduced species on a local ecosystem is highly variable. Some have a substantial negative impact. These are also called invasive species. Other species have no negative effects or only minor impacts. Moreover, in scientific research, some species have been introduced internationally to combat pests. They are known as biocontrols. They may be considered beneficial as an alternative to pesticides like in agriculture. Furthermore, the effects of exotic species on natural environments have gained much scrutiny from scientists, governments, farmers, and other stakeholders over the years.

What is an Endemic Species?

Endemic species are the species that belong to an area where they are particularly found. These species are those found only in just one region and nowhere else in the world. For example, kangaroos are endemic to Australia. But when kangaroos are spotted outside Australia, this is due to the human-caused introduction.

Figure 02: Endemic Species

There are some other marsupials that are endemic to Australia and its surrounding islands. One such animal was the Tasmanian tiger that was endemic to Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. Now, it is an extinct carnivorous marsupial. Furthermore, the Cape sugarbird is found exclusively in southwestern South Africa. Therefore, it is endemic to that particular region. When it comes to plants, Cyctisus aeolicus is an endemic of the Italian flora. A rare alternative term for endemic species is “precinctive”. This applies to species that are restricted to a defined geographical region.

What are the Similarities Between Exotic and Endemic Species?

  • Exotic and endemic species are two types of very important species living in an ecosystem.
  • Both species are described in the ecological species concept.
  • These species are sometimes beneficial to the local ecosystem.
  • Both species have the ability to reproduce and spread.

What is the Difference Between Exotic and Endemic Species?

Exotic species are species that belong to some other area but are introduced in another foreign area while endemic species are species that belong to an area where they are particularly found. So, this is the key difference between exotic and endemic species. Furthermore, exotic species may have a substantial negative impact on the local ecosystem, while endemic species do not have a negative impact on the local ecosystem.

The below infographic lists the differences between exotic and endemic species in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Exotic vs Endemic Species

In the ecological species concept, species are mainly two types: exotic and endemic species. Exotic species are those who belong to some other area but are introduced to another foreign area. Endemic species are the ones who belong to an area where they are particularly found. Thus, this is the key difference between exotic and endemic species.