Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 507–519

Non-Indigenous Species and Ecological Explanation

  • Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Article

Abstract

Within the last 20 years, the US has mounted amassive campaign against invasions bynon-indigenous species (NIS) such as zebramussels, kudzu, water hyacinths, and brown treesnakes. NIS have disrupted native ecosystemsand caused hundreds of billions of dollars ofannual damage. Many in the scientificcommunity say the problem of NIS is primarilypolitical and economic: getting governments toregulate powerful vested interests thatintroduce species through such vehicles asships' ballast water. This paper argues that,although politics and economics play a role,the problem is primarily one of scientificmethod. Even if commercial interests werewilling to spend the necessary funds to controlNIS, and even if government were willing toregulate them, ecological theory is notadequate to provide clear direction for eithereffort. The paper argues there is nocomprehensive, predictive “theory ofinvasibility,” as part of a larger theory ofcommunity structure, that might guideecological decision making regarding NIS, andfor at least three reasons. (1) There is nofirm definition of “NIS,” “native,” “exotic,”and so on, and ecologists do not use the termsconsistently; as a result, biologists debatingvarious accounts of community structure andecological explanation often do not even makelogical contact with each other. (2) Thedominant theory used to understandinvasibility, island biogeography, has noprecise predictive power and is unable toclarify when NIS might promote biodiversity andwhen they might hinder it. (3) There are nofirm, empirical generalizations that revealwhen a colonizer or a NIS might be likely totake over a new environment, and when it mightnot succeed in doing so. As a result,scientists have only rough “rules of thumb” toshore up their arguments against NIS. Given theincompleteness of current ecological theory,the paper closes with several suggestions forways that study of NIS might enhanceunderstanding of basic commmunity structuresand vice versa.

biodiversity colonize exotic explanation invasion island biogeography method native non-indigenous species 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bazzaz, F.A.: 1986, ‘Life History of Colonizing Plants', in H.A. Mooney andJ.A. Drake (eds), Ecology of Biological Invasions, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 96-110.Google Scholar
  2. Bright, C: 1995, ‘Bio-Invasions: The Spread of Exotic Species', World Watch 8(4), 10-20.Google Scholar
  3. Castri, F. Di: 1991, ‘The Biogeography of Mediterranean Animal Invasions', in R.H. Groves andF. Di Castri (eds), Biogeography of Mediterranean Invasions, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 439-452.Google Scholar
  4. Crawley, M.J.,Harvey, P.H. andPurvis, A.: 1996, ‘Comparative Ecology of the Native and Alien Floras of the British Isles', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B351, 1251-1259.Google Scholar
  5. Daehler, C.: 1998, ‘The Taxonomic Distribution of Invasive Angiosperm Plants', Biological Conservation 84, 167-180.Google Scholar
  6. Davis, M. andThompson, K.: 2000, ‘Eight Ways to Be A Colonizer', Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (July), 226-230.Google Scholar
  7. Fox, M.D.: 1990, ‘Mediterranean Weeds', in F. Di Castri,A.J. Hansen andM. Debussche (eds), Biological Invasions in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 179-200.Google Scholar
  8. Green, R.E.: 1997, ‘The Influence of Numbers Released on the Outcome of Attempts to Introduce Exotic Bird Species to New Zealand', Journal of Animal Ecology 66, 25-35.Google Scholar
  9. Hussey, B.M.J.,Anderson, D. andLoney, S.: 1992, ‘A Checklist of Plants Found Growing in a Native or Naturalized State on Culeenup Island', West Australian Naturalist 19, 35-43.Google Scholar
  10. Kaiser, J.: 1997, ‘Call for Exotic Species Task Force', Science 275(5302), 915.Google Scholar
  11. Kendle, A.D. andRose, J.E.: 2000, ‘The Aliens Have Landed', Landscape and Urban Planning 47, 19-31.Google Scholar
  12. Lodge, D.: 1993a, ‘Biological Invasions: Lessons for Ecology', Trends in Ecology and Evolution 8, 133-137.Google Scholar
  13. Lodge, D.: 1993b, ‘Species Invasions and Deletions’, in P.M. Kareiva,J.G. Kingsolver andR.B. Huey (eds), Biotic Interactions and Global Change, Sinauer, Sunderland MA, pp. 367-387.Google Scholar
  14. Lodge, D.,Stein, R.,Brown, K.,Covich, A.,Bronmark, C.,Garvey, J. andKlosiewski, S.: 1998, ‘Predicting Impact of Freshwater Exotic Species on Native Biodiversity', Australian Journal of Ecology 23, 53-67.Google Scholar
  15. Lonsdale, W.M.: 1994, ‘Inviting Trouble', Australian Journal of Ecology 19, 345-354.Google Scholar
  16. MacArthur, R. andWilson, E.O.: 1967, The Theory of Island Biogeography, Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  17. McDonald, K.: 1999, ‘Biological Invaders Threaten US Ecology', The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 12), A15-16.Google Scholar
  18. McKnight, B. (ed.): 1993, Biological Pollution: The Control and Impact of Invasive Exotic Species, Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis.Google Scholar
  19. Perry, W.,Lodge, D. andLamberti, G.: 1997, ‘Impact of Crayfish Predation on Exotic Zebra Mussels and Native Invertebrates in a Lake-Outlet Stream', Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54, 120-125.Google Scholar
  20. Peters, W.H.: 1991, A Critique for Ecology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  21. Renaud, C.: 1996, ‘Silent Invasion’, Environment 38(8), 24.Google Scholar
  22. Sala, O.,Chapin, F.S.,Armesto, J.,Berlow, E.,Bloomfield, J.,Dirzo, R.,Huber-Sanwald, E.,Huenneke, L.,Jackson, R.,Kinzig, A.,Leemans, R.,Lodge, D.,Mooney, H.,Oesterheld, M.,Poff, N.L.,Sykes, M.,Walker, B.,Walker, M. andWall, D.: 2000, ‘Global Biodiversity Scenarios for the Year 2100', Science 287, 1770-1774.Google Scholar
  23. Shrader-Frechette, K. andMcCoy, E.D.: 1993, Method in Ecology: Strategies for Conservation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  24. Shrader-Frechette, K. andMcCoy, E.D.: 1994, ‘Applied Ecology and the Logic of Case Studies', Philosophy of Science 61(1), 228-249.Google Scholar
  25. Simberloff, D.: 1976, ‘Species Turnover and Equilibrium Island Biogeography’, Science 194, 572-578.Google Scholar
  26. Simberloff, D. andStrong, D.R.: 2000, ‘Exotic Species Seriously Threaten Our Environment', The Chronicle of Higher Education (September 8), B20.Google Scholar
  27. Simberloff, D. andWilson, E.O.: 1969, ‘Experimental Zoogeography of Islands', Ecology 50, 278-296.Google Scholar
  28. Usher, M.B.: 1989, ‘Ecological Effects of Controlling Invasive Terrestrial Vertebrates', in J.A. Drakwe,H.A. Mooney,F. Di Castri,R.H. Groves,F.J. Kruger,M. Rejmanek andM. Williamson (eds), Biological Invasions, John Wiley, Chichester, UK, pp. 463-489.Google Scholar
  29. Wagner, W.H.: 1993, ‘Problems with Biotic Invasives', in McKnight (ed.), Biological Pollution, Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, pp. 1-8.Google Scholar
  30. Webb, D.A.: 1985, ‘What Are the Criteria for Presuming Native Status?’ Watsonia 15, 231-236.Google Scholar
  31. Williamson, M.: 1996, Biological Invasions, Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  32. Williamson, M. andFitter, A.: 1996, ‘The Varying Success of Invaders', Ecology 7, 1661-1666.Google Scholar
  33. Zera, F.: 2000, ‘New Regulations Considered to Address Ballast Water Problems’, Professional Mariner 50, 14-19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin Shrader-Frechette
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations