, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 305-319

Estimating the financial costs of freshwater invasive species in Great Britain: a standardized approach to invasive species costing

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Abstract

Both ecological and economic impacts factor into invasive alien species (IAS) management considerations; however, economic impacts are often difficult to assess, much less quantify. Studies frequently aggregate identified financial costs as a proxy for IAS economic impacts, but these aggregate figures are often generated in an ad hoc fashion. Such estimates typically sum disparate costs, which might vary with respect to precision, accuracy, and scope. A standardized approach for IAS costing would better enable the comparison of cost estimates between taxa and across studies by controlling for surveying and scaling inconsistencies. This study develops a simple, survey-based approach to generate economic cost estimates for non-native freshwater invasive species (FIS) in Great Britain. The approach scales an average cost for each species by a ratio of management effort, thereby estimating the actual, annual expenditures incurred by a variety of stakeholders. The Great Britain-wide cost of controlling FIS is estimated to be approximately £26.5 million year−1; however, the costs of control could total £43.5 million year−1 if management efforts were undertaken at all FIS infested locations. Cost estimates are highest for Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis), a particularly widespread species, and for the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), which adversely impacts both industrial water users and boaters. This assessment of the relative economic impacts between species provides policy-makers with a monetary basis for rank-ordering species’ economic impacts and prioritizing management efforts. In addition, the cost assessment approach developed in this study could serve as a model for IAS economic impact assessments elsewhere.