Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 3437–3458 | Cite as

Biological invasions in forest ecosystems

  • Andrew M. LiebholdEmail author
  • Eckehard G. Brockerhoff
  • Susan Kalisz
  • Martin A. Nuñez
  • David A. Wardle
  • Michael J. Wingfield
Elton Review 3


Forests play critical roles in global ecosystem processes and provide numerous services to society. But forests are increasingly affected by a variety of human influences, especially those resulting from biological invasions. Species invading forests include woody and herbaceous plants, many animal species including mammals and invertebrates, as well as a variety of microorganisms such as fungi, oomycetes, bacteria and viruses. These species have diverse ecological roles including primary producers, herbivores, predators, animal pathogens, plant pathogens, decomposers, pollinators and other mutualists. Although most non-native species have negligible effects on forests, a few have profound and often cascading impacts. These impacts include alteration of tree species composition, changes in forest succession, declines in biological diversity, and alteration of nutrient, carbon and water cycles. Many of these result from competition with native species but also trophic influences that may result in major changes in food web structure. Naturally regenerating forests around the world have been substantially altered by invading species but planted forests also are at risk. Non-native tree species are widely planted in many parts of the world for production of wood and fibre, and are chosen because of their frequently exceptional growth in their new environment. This greater growth is due, in part, to escape from herbivores and pathogens that exist in their native ranges. Over time, some pest species can “catch-up” with their hosts, leading to subsequent declines in forest productivity. Other impacts result when native herbivores or pathogens adapt to exotic trees or when novel associations form between pathogens and vectors. Additionally, planted non-native trees are sometimes invasive and can have substantial adverse effects on adjacent natural areas. Management of invasions in forests includes prevention of arrival, eradication of nascent populations, biological control, selection for resistance in host trees, and the use of cultural practices (silviculture and restoration) to minimize invader impacts. In the future, the worlds’ forests are likely to be subject to increasing numbers of invasions, and effective management will require greater international cooperation and interdisciplinary integration.


Producer Herbivore Predator Decomposer Resistance Enemy release 



This paper is a product of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Task Force on Biological Invasions in Forests. We are grateful to Kamal Gandhi and Gary Lovett for their useful comments. The authors acknowledge the support of OECD Cooperative Research Program, USDA NIFA, USDA APHIS PPQ, US Forest Service Forest Health Protection, US Forest Service International Programs and IUFRO SPDC. DAW acknowledges support from the BioDivErsA FFII program. They also thanks L. Blackburn and R. Young for technical assistance. SK acknowledges support from the US National Science Foundation DEB 0958676 and DEB 1457531. EGB was supported by MBIE core funding to Scion and the Better Border Biosecurity Collaboration (

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 71 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 66 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Forest Service Northern Research StationMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)ChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.Better Border Biosecurity CollaborationLincolnNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  5. 5.Grupo de Ecologia de Invasiones, INIBIOMA, CONICETUniversidad Nacional del ComahueBarilocheArgentina
  6. 6.Asian School of the EnvironmentNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  7. 7.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  8. 8.Forest and Agricultural Biotechnology InstituteUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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