Contributions to Science, Vol 9, No 1 (2013)

Biological invasions: Much progress plus several controversies

Daniel Simberloff


Invasion biology has allowed to progress in our understanding of invasions and our ability to manage them. Recent research has largely focused on invasions that impact entire ecosystems. Molecular genetics has revealed the relative commonality of hybridizations between introduced and native species and between genetically different populations introduced into the same region. Controversies surrounding the findings of invasion biology and management include: i) The claim that most invasions are inconsequential, even if they have been scarcely studied. ii) The argument that invasions can increase local biodiversity, without recognizing that they decrease global biodiversity. iii) The statement that invasion biology is a form of xenophobia, downplaying evidence that fighting invasive species is motivated by their negative impacts. iv) The belief that there is little we can do to prevent or control invasions, ignoring successful eradication and management projects and promising novel approaches. iv) Animal rights objections to the management of invasive vertebrates, particularly mammals, which reflects different philosophical stances and will not be easily resolved.

Keywords: biological control · biological invasion · ecosystem impact · eradication · hybridization · lag time · maintenance management

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ISSN: 2013-410X (electronic edition); 1575-6343 (print edition)