The link between international trade and the global distribution of invasive alien species

Abstract

Invasive alien species (IAS) exact large biodiversity and economic costs and are a significant component of human-induced, global environmental change. Previous studies looking at the variation in alien species across regions have been limited geographically or taxonomically or have not considered economics. We used a global invasive species database to regress IAS per-country on a suite of socioeconomic, ecological, and biogeographical variables. We varied the countries included in the regression tree analyses, in order to explore whether certain outliers were biasing the results, and in most of the cases, merchandise imports was the most important explanatory variable. The greater the degree of international trade, the higher the number of IAS. We also found a positive relationship between species richness and the number of invasives, in accord with other investigations at large spatial scales. Island status (overall), country area, latitude, continental position (New World versus Old World) or other measures of human disturbance (e.g., GDP per capita, population density) were not found to be important determinants of a country’s degree of biological invasion, contrary to previous studies. Our findings also provide support to the idea that more resources for combating IAS should be directed at the introduction stage and that novel trade instruments need to be explored to account for this environmental externality.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The IUCN definition of IAS is used: “Alien invasive species means an alien species which becomes established in natural or semi-natural ecosystems or habitat, is an agent of change, and threatens native biological diversity.” Ultimately, the degree to which alien species impact biodiversity is the most important consideration; thus, we did not take a more liberal approach and include all alien species in a country. Moreover, country lists for alien species are notoriously poor, with a constellation of differing terminology, e.g. “exotic”, “non-native”, “spreading”, “pest”, “non-indigenous”, “incursive”, “alien”, etc., with inconsistent meanings.

References

  1. Atkinson EJ, Therneau TM (2000) An introduction to recursive partitioning using the RPART routines. Department of Health Science Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

  2. Benson AJ, Boydstun CP (1995) Invasion of the zebra mussel into the United States. In: LaRoe ET, Farris GS, Puckett CE, Doran PD, Mac MJ (eds) Our living resources: a report to the nation on the distribution, Abundance and Health of U.S. Plants, animals and Ecosystems. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, DC, pp 445–446

    Google Scholar 

  3. Born W, Rauschmayer F, Brauer I (2005) Economic evaluation of biological invasions—a survey. Ecol Econ 55:321–336

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Breiman L, Friedman JH, Olshen RA, Stone CJ (1984) Classification and regression trees. Wadsworth International Group, Belmont, CA

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cassey P, Blackburn TM, Russel GJ, Jones KE, Lockwood JL (2004a) Influences on the transport and establishment of exotic bird species: an analysis of the parrots (Psittaciformes) of the world. Glob Change Biol 10:417–426

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Cassey P, Blackburn TM, Sol D, Duncan RP, Lockwood JL (2004b) Global patterns of introduction effort and establishment success in birds. Proc R Soc Lond B 217:S405–S408

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ

    Google Scholar 

  8. Dalmazzone S (2002) Economic factors affecting the vulnerability to biological invasions. In: Perrings C (ed) The economics of biological invasions. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp 17–30

    Google Scholar 

  9. D’Antonio CM, Dudley TL (1995) Biological invasions as agents of change on islands versus mainlands. In: Vitousek PM, Loope LL, Adsersen H (eds) Islands, vol 115. Springer, Berlin, pp 103–121

    Google Scholar 

  10. De’ath G, Fabricus KE (2000) Classification and regression trees: a powerful yet simple technique for ecological data analysis. Ecology 81:3178–3192

    Google Scholar 

  11. Elton CS (1958) The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Methuen, London

    Google Scholar 

  12. Eriksson O, Wikstrom S, Eriksson A, Lindborg R (2006) Species-rich Scandinavian grasslands are inherently open to invasion. Biol Invasions 8:355–363

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Horan RD, Lupi F (2005) Tradeable risk permits to prevent future introductions of invasive alien species into the Great Lakes. Ecol Econ 52:289–304

    Google Scholar 

  14. Jeschke J, Strayer DL (2005) Invasion success of vertebrates in Europe and North America. Proc Natl Acad Sci 102:7198–7202

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Kennedy TA, Naeem S, Howe KM, Knops JMH, Tilman D, Reich P (2002) Biodiversity as a barrier to ecological invasion. Nature 417:636–638

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Lavergne S, Thompson JD, Garnier E, Debussche M (2004) The biology and ecology of narrow endemic and widespread plants: a comparative study of trait variation in 20 congeneric plants. Oikos 107:505–518

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Leung B, Finnoff D, Shogren JF, Lodge D (2005) Managing invasive species: rules of thumb for rapid assessment. Ecol Econ 55:24–36

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Leung B, Lodge DM, Finnoff D, Shogren JF, Lewis MA, Lamberti G (2002) An ounce of prevention or a pound of cure: bioeconomic risk analysis of invasive species. Proc R Soc B 269:2407–2413

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Levine JM, Adler PB, Yelenik SG (2004) A meta-analysis of biotic resistance to exotic plant invasions. Ecol Lett 7:975–989

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Levine JM, D’Antonio CM (2003) Forecasting biological invasions with increasing international trade. Conser Biol 17:322–326

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lonsdale WM (1999) Global patterns of plant invasions and the concept of invasibility. Ecology 80:1522–1536

    Google Scholar 

  22. Margolis M, Shogren JF, Fischer C (2005) How trade politics affect invasive species control. Ecol Econ 52:305–313

    Google Scholar 

  23. May RM (1973) Stability and complexity in model ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

    Google Scholar 

  24. McKinney ML (2006) Correlated non-native species richness of birds, mammals, herptiles and plants: scale effects of area, human population and native plants. Biol Invasions 8:415–425

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Perrings C, Dehnen-Schmutz, Touza J, Williamson M (2005) How to manage biological invasions under globalization. Trends Ecol Evol 20:212–215

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Pimentel D, Zuniga R, Morrison D (2005) Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecol Econ 52:273–288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Prieur-Richard A-H, Lavorel S, Grigulis K, Dos Santos A (2000) Plant community diversity and invasibility by exotics: invasion of Mediterranean old fields by Conyza bonariensis and Conyza canadensis. Ecol Lett 3:412–422

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ricciardi A, Atkinson SK (2004) Distinctiveness magnifies the impact of biological invaders in aquatic ecosystems. Ecol Lett 7:781–784

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Stark SC, Bunker D, Carson WP (2006) A null model of exotic plant diversity tested with exotic and native species-area relationships. Ecol Lett 9:136–141

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Stohlgren TJ, Binkley D, Chong GW, Kalkhan MA, Schell LD, Bull KA, Otsuki Y, Newman G, Bashkin M, Son Y (1999) Exotic plant species invade hot spots of plant diversity. Ecol Monogr 69:25–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Strauss SY, Web CO, Salamin N (2006) Exotic species less related to native species are more invasive. Proc Natl Acad Sci 103:5841–5845

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Taylor BW, Irwin RE (2004) Linking economic activities to the distribution of exotic plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci 101:17725–17730

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Thomsen MA, D’Antonia CM, Suttle KB, Sousa WP (2006) Ecological resistance, seed density and their interactions determine patterns of invasion in a California coastal grassland. Ecol Lett 9:160–170

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Vila M, Pujadas J (2001) Land-use and socio-economic correlates of plant invasions in European and North African countries. Biol Conserv 100:397–401

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Vitousek PM, D’Antonio CM, Loope LL, Rejmanek M, Westbrooks R (1997) Introduced species: a significant component of human-caused global change. N Z J Ecol 21:1–16

    Google Scholar 

  36. Wijesinsinghe MR, Brooke MD (2004) What causes the vulnerability of endemic animals? A case study from Sri Lanka. J Zool 263:135–140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Wilcove DS, Rothstein D, Dubow J, Phillips A, Losos E (1998) Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. Bioscience 48:607–615

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Many of the data used for this paper have come from the World Resources Institute’s EarthTrends database. We thank them for this invaluable resource. We would also like to thank Peter Baxter for helpful comments on the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael I. Westphal.

Additional information

Disclaimer: This paper does not represent the views of AAAS, the EPA, or the World Bank Group.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Westphal, M.I., Browne, M., MacKinnon, K. et al. The link between international trade and the global distribution of invasive alien species. Biol Invasions 10, 391–398 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-007-9138-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Environmental externality
  • Exotic species
  • Regression tree
  • Species richness
  • Trade and environment