Invasive Species in a Globalized World Ecological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on Policy
edited by Reuben P. Keller, Marc W. Cadotte and Glenn Sandiford
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Cloth: 978-0-226-16604-9 | Paper: 978-0-226-16618-6 | Electronic: 978-0-226-16621-6
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.001.0001


Over the past several decades, the field of invasion biology has rapidly expanded as global trade and the spread of human populations have increasingly carried animal and plant species across natural barriers that have kept them ecologically separated for millions of years. Because some of these nonnative species thrive in their new homes and harm environments, economies, and human health, the prevention and management of invasive species has become a major policy goal from local to international levels.

Yet even though ecological research has led to public conversation and policy recommendations, those recommendations have frequently been ignored, and the efforts to counter invasive species have been largely unsuccessful. Recognizing the need to engage experts across the life, social, and legal sciences as well as the humanities, the editors of this volume have drawn together a wide variety of ecologists, historians, economists, legal scholars, policy makers, and communications scholars, to facilitate a dialogue among these disciplines and understand fully the invasive species phenomenon. Aided by case studies of well-known invasives such as the cane toad of Australia and the emerald ash borer, Asian carp, and sea lampreys that threaten US ecosystems, Invasive Species in a Globalized World offers strategies for developing and implementing anti-invasive policies designed to stop their introduction and spread, and to limit their effects.


Reuben P. Keller is assistant professor of environmental science at Loyola University Chicago and is coeditor of Bioeconomics of Invasive Species: Integrating Ecology, Economics, Policy and Management. He lives in Evanston, IL. Marc W. Cadotte is the TD Professor of Urban Forest Conservation and Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and coeditor of Conceptual Ecology and Invasion Biology: Reciprocal Approaches to Nature. He lives in Toronto, ON. Glenn Sandiford is an adjunct instructor in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences unit at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and with the Center for Online Learning at Saint Leo University.


“While other works have highlighted the current status of invasion ecology, this book seeks to put an emphasis on management and policy that can be created to begin to mitigate the many issues of biological invasions. Satisfying, exciting, and incorporating an astonishing variety of scholars and traditions, Invasive Species in a Globalized World provides an adequate background in invasion ecology and then steers the topic toward policy in an effective way. This is a crucial and currently lacking segment along the pathway from research to action.”
— Julie Lockwood, Rutgers University, coauthor of "Avian Invasions" and "Invasion Ecology, 2nd Edition"

Invasive Species in a Globalized World is an exciting, multifaceted approach to an overwhelming, urgent problem. It has something for everyone: ecology of important invaders, updates on management efforts, costs of invasions and management, politics and laws, and social attitudes about invasions and their impacts.”
— Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee, author of "Invasive Species" and senior editor of "Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions"

“Although much progress has been made in studies of biological invasions in recent years, effective management of invasive species remains a daunting challenge. What is clear is that effective responses demand insights from multiple disciplines. The essays collected in this book provide a very helpful primer of progress and perspectives in this regard.”
— David M. Richardson, director, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, editor of "Fifty Years of Invasion Ecology: The Legacy of Charles Elton"

“Presents a convincing argument that policy development must proceed through better integration of science, policy, and public awareness. . . . The book’s crucial contribution is convincing readers that halting the spread of invasive species is daunting, but possible, with coordination and cooperation from many stakeholders. . . . Because Invasive Species is a blend of empirical studies, reviews, control methodology, historical accounts, and policy implications, all readers can get something out of this book. . . . The book will make the biggest contribution if read by policy makers or scientists charged with communicating science to policy makers. Although some academics would argue that a species’ origin does not necessarily predict its ecological or economic impact in its introduced range and that we should not demonize exotic species, the authors illustrate the potential for a handful of species to undermine the functioning of critical habitats. Keller and his colleagues powerfully argue that the fight against invasive species is a worthy struggle.”
— Jennifer L. Funk, Chapman University, BioScience

“This excellent book examines a complex issue, helping bridge the gap between policy and science, and steering global action against invasive species based on a synthesis of the relevant disciplines. The final paragraph stresses that although we have the knowledge and tools to alter the patterns and impacts of invasions, to progress we need to address the principal challenges, which are cultural rather than technical.”
— Piero Genovesi, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Italy, and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Invasive Species Specialist Group, Oryx

“Any invasion biologist would find much of interest in this book, with its intriguing mix of topics, many a little off the well-trodden tracks of invasion biology.”
— Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee, Biological Invasions

“Policy makers, researchers, and students in ecology, particularly population and community ecology, will find this book an excellent source of information about invasive introduced species. . . . Recommended.”
— K. R. Thompson, Missouri State University, Choice

“There is much to be admired in the book. It seeks to light a little fire under a pot that has been very hard to bring to a political boil: how to get better laws in the United States to control species introductions for groups not currently regulated. . . . A good book, well worth reading.”
— Roy Van Driesche, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ecology

“Cane toads in Australia, Asian carp in America and grey squirrels in England—Keller and Cadotte’s book, edited with environmental writer Sandiford, helps bridge the gap between ecologists, economists, and legal scholars sharing similar anxieties over invasive species regulation and its absence. These professional cross-purposes have stymied effective administration of challenges that, as the book’s title suggests, are worsening in a globalized world.”
— Andrew Reeves, Alternatives Journal: Canada's Environmental Voice


- Reuben P. Keller, Marc Cadotte, Glenn Sandiford
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0001
[invasive species, policy, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, globalization, management]
As humans have come to occupy more of the planet, and to move themselves and cargo across it more rapidly, the number of species introduced and established beyond their native range has increased exponentially. Many of these species become harmful and are termed invasive. This subset of non-native species is increasingly recognized as one of the most damaging economic and environmental outcomes from globalization. It is not possible to fully understand the introduction, establishment, and impacts of invasive species from within any single discipline. These processes depend on ecological, legal, trade, economic, evolutionary, and more factors, including social responses. Many disciplines are now studying the movement and impacts of non-native species, but as yet there is relatively little interaction among disciplines. This hampers our understanding of the issues. This book is focused on gaining insight from multiple disciplines to better understand the processes of invasion so that appropriate and wise policy can be developed. (pages 1 - 20)
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Section I. Introduction: Of Toads, Squirrels, Carps, and Kids: How Science and Human Perceptions Drive Our Responses to Invasive Species

- Richard Shine
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0002
[cane toad, Rhinella marina, Bufo marinus, evolution, predation, tropical, invasive species]
Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are large toxic anurans native to South and Central America, and introduced to tropical Australia in 1935 in the futile hope that they would help control insect pests in commercial sugar-cane plantations. Because Australia lacks native toads, the ecological impact of cane toads has been devastating for some species of native predators (snakes, lizards, crocodiles, marsupial carnivores) that attempt to eat toads, and are killed by the toads’ powerful poisons. The process of biological invasion has imposed strong evolutionary pressures on the toads, with genes for more rapid dispersal accumulating at the invasion front; and thus the toad front is now advancing much faster than before. Vulnerable native predators have adapted to the toad’s presence, with shifts in feeding responses, physiological tolerance to toad toxins, and even body shape (relative head size). Intense public interest in toads and their impacts has spawned vigorous (and competing) community-based attempts to combat toad invasion, creating a political firestorm in which scientific approaches to toad biology must confront populist opinions. The cane toad invasion of Australia provides an unusually well-documented case of the ways in which a single introduced species has substantial direct effects, and generates adaptive responses via multiple pathways, both in native fauna and human society. (pages 23 - 43)
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- Peter Coates
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0003
[Great Britain, red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, gray squirrel, invasive species, anti-Americanism]
Historical studies of invasive species traditionally focus on European biota in North America. Yet the lesser known and less extensively studied transfer of American species to Europe also created significant ecological and economic problems. The cultural impact has also been substantial as questions of belonging and authenticity enter the debate. This historical case study of the gray squirrel in Britain has three objectives: to examine the relationship between the gray squirrel’s success and the decline of the native red squirrel; to investigate efforts to control this ‘pest’ species for economic reasons and for biodiversity’s sake; and to explore the role of cultural considerations (specifically anti-Americanism) in shaping British attitudes to the ‘American’ gray squirrel. The relationship between the gray squirrel’s expanding population in Britain and the fall in red squirrel numbers is more complex than the received wisdom suggests. The gray squirrel has served as a scapegoat for the declining fortunes of a creature that is not just a different squirrel but a national faunal emblem. This tale of two squirrels highlights the powerful role of cultural considerations in shaping attitudes to invasive species and underlines how they complicate the decision-making environment. (pages 44 - 71)
This chapter is available at:

- Glenn Sandiford
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0004
[invasive species, rhetoric, trans-scientific, Asian carp, bighead carp, silver carp, common carp, optimism bias]
Invasive species policy is a “trans-scientific” issue, guided by science but ultimately transcending into the realm of opinion and judgment. Since the early nineteenth century, five foreign species of carp have been imported into America — common carp (Cyprinus carpio), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), black carp ((Mylopharyngodon piceus), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) — each of which became invasive. Before, during, and after each introduction, carp advocates replayed a problematic pattern of rhetoric — whether in scientific report, policy statement, or news story — that features excessive optimism, narrow-framed rationales, and revisionism, and which reflects human nature rather than historical context or scientific knowledge. For all five species, traits that boosters initially marketed as positive attributes (fecundity, hardiness, etc.) were later reframed by critics as negatives. Carps have never had significant sustained commercial value in America because of widespread skepticism about their edibility, yet for 130 years defenders of invasive foreign carps have unsuccessfully addressed that unpopularity as a marketing problem that can be overcome by rebranding, recipes, and “education” of the U.S. consumer. The tendency for optimism bias and flawed foresight in advocates’ narratives about exotic species merits greater comprehensiveness and self-awareness in assessments of such biota, especially prior to introduction. (pages 72 - 98)
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- Mark Newman
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0005
[invasive species, Great Lakes, children’s literature, primary education]
As residents of a state bordered on its sides by four of the five Great Lakes, artist Mark Heckman and writer Mark Newman felt a responsibility to do their small part to raise public awareness and encourage good stewardship of our natural resources. Using the literary device of a superhero, we felt we could draw children’s attention to the problem of non-native species in the Great Lakes. During the development process, we considered many unique superpowers for our main character, but in the end made the decision to go in a different direction to underscore our belief that anyone can be a superhero when it comes to protecting the earth. We did make one concession the conventions of the genre; we gave our hero a bulldog sidekick named Mighty Mac. The Great Lakes provided an abundance of villains, more than 180 non-native species that are not inherently evil but pose a threat due to the fact that they are invasive and in many cases have no natural predator to control their numbers and movement. Our book, Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender, took on a life of its own when a one-hour educational program created to promote its publication was supported by the Wege Foundation and was subsequently embraced by schools throughout the Midwest. (pages 99 - 112)
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Section II. Introduction: Here They Come: Understanding and Managing the Introduction of Invasive Species

- Christina Romagosa
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0006
[invasive species, vertebrates, international trade, trade volume, introduction]
This chapter explores patterns of vertebrate importation into the United States over time by summarizing the magnitude of individuals and species imported, geographic origins, and the relationship of this trade to biological invasions. During 1970-2010, the United States imported approximately 4000 species and more than 125 million individuals of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. For many taxonomic groups, the number of species and individuals imported is increasing over time, and consequently the number of species introductions for these groups is also increasing. Forty years ago, Africa and Central and South America contributed the majority of species imported and released in the wild in the continental United States. Today, Asia is emerging as important trading partner and may contribute to introductions in the future. As part of the push for a global dissemination of invasive species information, trade data from the United States, as well as other countries, should be incorporated and maintained within a global information network to secure its availability for future research. Data on the global trade in live vertebrates can contribute to the development of an international regulatory framework for invasive species prevention. (pages 115 - 146)
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- Marc W. Cadotte, Lanna S. Jin
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0007
[invasive species, purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, evolution, evolutionary history, management, biological control, relatedness]
Each species has a unique evolutionary history, and the spread of non-native organisms brings together species that have been evolving separately. The ability of these non-native species to establish in their new ecosystem depends largely on their attributes built up during their evolution. These attributes are often shared among closely related species. In contrast, closely related species that evolve together are driven to rapidly diverge so that competition between species is reduced. Given the different ways in which evolution shapes interactions among species, we expect patterns of relatedness among non-native species to be a better predictor of success than for the natives in the same region. That is, closely-related non-native species should be more likely to show correlated responses to environmental conditions and to fill out the same geographical or niche space; while natives should be more specialized and relatedness less important for current ecological patterns. We review this conceptual model and published papers that address our hypothesis. We show that successful introduced species tend to come from relatively few groups of closely-related species. Invasive species risk assessment schemes evaluate the potential of non-native species to become invasive, and many cite being closely related to a problematic introduced species as cause for concern. (pages 147 - 162)
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- Michael Springborn
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0008
[invasive species, economics, bioeconomics, herpetofauna, reptiles, plants, risk assessment]
In several recent analyses a unified framework is developed for organizing information to decide whether to allow intentional trade of a potentially invasive species. Recent estimates of the expected net benefits from upfront invasion risk assessment for different groups—plants for planting and herpetofauna—fall in a range from $54K-$141K per species assessed, suggesting substantial returns to a proactive approach. Two essential components of this risk assessment framework include (1) a statistical-ecological model of species invasion threat, and (2) a mechanism for mapping potential benefits and costs from trade into a threat level threshold beyond which non-native species are deemed too risky for importation. Data and future research needs for improving ecological-economic risk assessment of potentially invasive biological imports include: (1) better estimates of invasion welfare losses by taxon, (2) broader estimates of import benefits that assess benefits generated throughout the import value chain, (3) consistent collection, maintenance and access to detailed trade data. (pages 163 - 182)
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Section III. Introduction: Controlling the Bad: Reducing the Impacts of Established Invaders

- Jonathan Bossenbroek, Audra Croskey, David Finnoff, Louis Iverson, Shana M. McDermott, Anantha Prasad, Charles Sims, Davis Sydnor
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0009
[invasive species, economics, bioeconomics, emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, spread, policy, real options]
Emerald ash borers were first discovered in Detroit in 2002 and have since taken only a few years to destroy most of the ash trees within the Detroit Metropolitan area and spread throughout many of the Great Lakes States. We integrate economic and ecological models to retroactively assess the economic benefits of different policy options during the initial spread of emerald ash borer. For the spread of the emerald ash borer, we use a model that includes natural and human dispersal, primarily by roads, campgrounds and population centers. The economic models consist of a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, which quantifies the damages that occur to a regional economy during a shock like an invasion, and a real options model, which determines the optimum timing for investments in different policy options. Policy options in our scenarios included changing the number and intensity of eradication efforts, both at the wave front of the invasion and at the long-distance outbreaks. Our economic analyses suggest that the annual welfare loss in Michigan and Ohio will exceed $110 million and that stopping the spread of the emerald ash borer when it was first detected would have saved more than $1 billion. (pages 185 - 208)
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- James F. Kitchell, Timothy Cline, Val Bennington, Galen A. McKinley
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0010
[invasive species, Great Lakes, sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, climate change, fisheries management, Lake Superior]
Invasion of sea lamprey and commercial fisheries combined historically to cause collapse of many native fish populations in the Great Lakes. Due to subsequent control of sea lamprey, many native fish populations are restored and are now more abundant in Lake Superior than at any recorded time. Owing to climate change effects since 1980, Lake Superior is currently one of the most rapidly warming lakes on the planet. This combination of more abundant host fish species and climate warming effects has resulted in larger sea lampreys than at any time in the history of Lake Superior. Larger lampreys cause greater mortality rates for host species and have greater fecundity producing a positive feedback that can have increasingly negative effects on host species population dynamics and food web interactions. This analysis focuses on two host species, the Chinook salmon and the white sucker, that have habitat and temperature preferences different from those of previously evaluated lamprey hosts. In the Great Lakes region, invasive sea lampreys are a continuing threat to host fish populations and, therefore, controlled at minimum possible levels. In regions of Europe and northwestern US states, native lampreys are the target of restoration efforts and treated as the equivalent of an endangered resource. (pages 209 - 232)
This chapter is available at:

- Robert Keller
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0011
[invasive species, common carp, Cyprinus carpio, Australia, environmental flows, Glenelg River, Williams carp cage, continuous deflective separation]
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a major and widespread pest species in southeast Australia. The recent emphasis on increasing regulated river flows to improve environmental values requires prevention of carp spread into carp-free areas while still permitting the passage of major water flows. Biological control techniques are still many years away from effective implementation. In the meantime, the use of engineered structures represents an important mechanism for the exclusion of carp. Two types of structure are discussed herein. With the first, the principle of species separation is based on the carp’s jumping ability, in contrast to the non-jumping behavior of indigenous species, and is thus discriminatory. The second type of structure is designed to capture all biomass and, accordingly, is non-discriminatory. Case studies indicate that a discriminatory structure works well within fishways, but is not particularly effective in a riverine situation where all species tended to avoid the structure. In contrast, a non-discriminatory structure tested by way of a physical model was very effective, capturing better than 97% of introduced samples of carp eggs and carp fingerlings. Of the less than 3% that did pass through the structure, one-tenth — or less than 0.3% of the total introduced sample — was considered viable. (pages 233 - 251)
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- Kirsten M. Prior, Jessica J. Hellmann
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0012
[invasive species, enemy release, invasion success, fitness, biological control, meta-analysis]
Once established, some introduced species experience increased fitness or demographic rates in their introduced range compared to their native range. The phenomenon of species becoming invasive as a result of increased success is referred to as “invasion success.” The enemy release hypothesis (ERH) is a leading hypothesis of invasion success; it posits that introduced species lose enemies and undergo release from enemy control. The ERH provides the underpinnings for the management practice of biological control; if enemy release is important, then re-establishing the link between introduced species and natural enemies could provide an effective means of control. Despite the popularity of the ERH as an explanation for invasion success and its implications for biological control, our review reveals that it has only been properly evaluated in limited contexts. More rigorous tests of the ERH are needed for invasive species in higher trophic levels and in aquatic systems to reveal the general importance of this hypothesis of invasion success. A fundamental understanding of what causes invasion success is essential to apply effective control strategies for the management of invasive species. (pages 252 - 280)
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Section IV. Introduction: Where To from Here? Policy Prospects at International, National, and Regional Levels

- Stanley W. Burgiel
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0013
[invasive species, prevention, management, global, policy, international law, trade agreements, scale]
To be comprehensive and effective, policy frameworks for addressing invasive species need to address a number of levels including the pathways by which invasive species are introduced, the legal sector that has jurisdiction over the movement and/or use of those species, and geographic scale of the movements (e.g., country to country, local site to site). Regulation of pathways for the introduction of invasive species is a critical approach for prevention efforts, but requires coordinated action across a range of different sectors or fields of policy and law. Different fields of international law and policy related to invasive species have differing weights or cache with regard to their implementation and enforcement. International environmental agreements offer a range of voluntary guidelines and tools specific to the management of invasive species, but these measures are often non-binding or lack enforceability. In contrast, trade agreements have significant compliance requirements, but historically have not been applied much beyond the protection of agriculture, livestock and the production of food and fiber. These different and approaches offer untapped opportunities and means for countries to address invasive species in a more integrated manner. Policy efforts at the national, regional and international levels are important for leveraging action on invasive species at the site level. Similarly, issues at the local and national level can inform the development of higher level policies. (pages 283 - 302)
This chapter is available at:

- Clare Shine
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0014
[invasive species, European Union, biodiversity strategy, prevention, management, policy, risk prioritization]
Invasive species (IS) prevention and management present complex challenges for a multi-country free trade bloc with many entry points, biogeographic zones and layers of governance. Trade pathways are key drivers for introductions into the 28-member European Union (EU), which accounts for around 19% of world imports and exports. The cost of IS to EU stakeholders in lost output, health impacts and damage repair has been at least 12 billion EUR / year over the past 20 years, but this is a significant under-estimate as data is lacking for key sectors. Reducing IS impacts will require policy coordination and risk prioritization by the European Commission, its Member States and key sectors. Targeted measures are needed for EU Outermost Regions and other isolated ecosystems. EU institutions committed in 2006 to develop an EU Strategy on Invasive Alien Species and an information and early warning system. The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) provided technical support to assess IS impacts and propose costed policy options. In 2011, the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy undertook to develop dedicated IS legislation by 2013. This chapter outlines work in progress and outstanding issues. (pages 303 - 326)
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- Marc L. Miller
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0015
[invasive species, United States, legislation, policy, organic law, legal framework]
No comprehensive framework federal legislation exists to deal with the problem of harmful non-indigenous species. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the United States Congress enacted most of what are considered the “framework” environmental laws—broad legislation that set a policy and regulatory framework for significant dimensions of the natural and human environment. But none of these laws address the broad problem of harmful invasive species. As the problem of harmful invasive species have become more widely noticed, the federal and state legal response remains inadequate. This chapter summarizes the federal legal landscape for invasive species, and notes the paradox of a fair number of laws that touch on invasive species directly or indirectly, but the continued existence of big gaps. The chapter surveys theories of legislation to answer the question why this significant environmental challenge has not seen a broad legislative response. (pages 327 - 355)
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- Joel Brammeier, Thom Cmar
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0016
[invasive species, Great Lakes, shipping, ballast, Asian carp, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago Area Waterway System, policy]
We now have a good sense of the costs associated with the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes and understand the risk of further invasions from different vectors. The most effective way to avoid those costs is through strategies that would prevent introduction and spread rather than attempt to mitigate the risk of harm from invasions following their introduction. Since the invasion of zebra mussels in the 1980’s it has been understood that vessels’ ballast water discharges are a significant vector for introduction of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes and for their spread throughout the region. Since Asian carp reached critical mass in the Lower Mississippi River Basin in the mid-1990s and began migrating north, we have anticipated the day when these species would threaten entry and establishment in the Great Lakes. Establishing a policy of prevention for any invasive species vector requires overcoming legal/regulatory, political, and practical obstacles to change. (pages 356 - 380)
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- Glenn Sandiford, Reuben P. Keller, Marc Cadotte
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226166216.003.0017
[invasive species, policy, ethic, risk assessment, globalization, inter-disciplinary, social responses]
During the past quarter-century, public awareness about invasive species has reached unprecedented levels around the world, but a comparable transformation in policy is lagging. Basic knowledge about invasive species is still seriously lacking in multiple policy-relevant areas, notably risk assessment. Small-scale impacts justify the fight against invasive species, while biodiversity’s broad-scale resilience offers hope for restoration of habitats and native species. The piecemeal approach to invasive species policy needs a unifying framework, guided by an overarching ethic that transcends time and place in addressing the “appropriateness” of non-native species in our globalizing world. Such an ethic, while acknowledging that some invasive species become permanently embedded in ecosystems, must utilize species origin as its foundational principle, rather than species impact/benefit or ecosystem service. The development of a policy ethic for invasive species requires interdisciplinary collaboration, with ecologists in a leadership role. (pages 381 - 394)
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