Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp 1609–1621 | Cite as

Dealing with non-native species: what makes the difference in South America?

  • Karina L. Speziale
  • Sergio A. Lambertucci
  • Martina Carrete
  • José L. Tella
Perspectives and Paradigms


Non-native species have reached South American ecosystems and may be threatening the exceptional biodiversity of this region. However, people often value and exploit introduced species not knowing that they are non-natives, nor understanding their impacts. In this paper we analyze the trend of scientific research on introduced species in South America and whether a socio-cultural explanation could underlie the results by comparing them with European, North American and Australasian countries. We also controlled for research effort, which could reflect economic inequalities, by analyzing the articles published on introduced species in relation to the total number of articles published on related disciplines. Research trends suggest that non-native species are not of major concern for South American countries, there being less research on this topic in countries with higher biodiversity. Compared to other colonized countries such as the USA, New Zealand and Australia, research on non-native species was lagging and less abundant in South America, even when controlling for research effort. Historical and recent socio-cultural particularities may explain the similar attitudes and research input seen in South American countries and their Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. A generational amnesia, where younger generations descendent from European colonizers are not aware of past biological conditions, could be exacerbating this lack of concern. South American policies seem to reflect the low level of interest in non-native species shown by their citizens. National policies are poorly developed and mainly deal with alien species threatening productive systems. Given the strong cultural component of this dilemma, integrated ways to reverse this situation are needed, including education, international research collaboration, and a common South American policy.


Biodiversity Biological invasions Control Culture Introductions Invasive species management 



This article benefited from discussions with F. Hiraldo. We appreciate the comments received from D. Vazquez, A. Pauchard, and two anonymous reviewers that helped to improve an earlier version of the manuscript. K.L.S. was funded by ANCPCYT-FONCYT (BID OC-AR 1728), and S.A.L. by CONICET- PIP 11420100100095. M.C. and J.L.T. benefited from funds to study biological invasions in Spain and South America by Repsol Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karina L. Speziale
    • 1
  • Sergio A. Lambertucci
    • 1
  • Martina Carrete
    • 2
  • José L. Tella
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecotono LaboratoryComahue National UniversityBarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Department of PhysicalChemical and Natural Systems, University Pablo de OlavideSevillaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana, EBD-CSICSevillaSpain

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