• Douglas J. SpielesEmail author
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


What is so bad about an ecosystem that is no longer in the desirable state? What makes it undesirable? It is probably not as attractive to the human eye, for one. Who would choose a field of thistles over a field of bluestem, coneflower, blazingstar and indigo? Attractiveness in the ecological sense may also be altered; the ecosystem in the undesirable state may not support the same wildlife that it once did. A rare or endangered species that was adapted to this specific type of ecosystem may now be locally extinct. With these aesthetic and ecological departures from the ecosystem of recent history there may be a sense of lost legacy: this was the last remnant of a once-great type of ecosystem in this particular area. Aesthetic appeal and nostalgia for a particular manifestation of nature are real but subjective reasons for eschewing and lamenting ecological change. But there are also concrete, objective reasons. For instance, there may be economic ramifications to ecosystem changes that limit or eliminate hunting, fishing, or other opportunities for recreation. Perhaps the ecosystem in its new state no longer supports a particular commodity, such as timber, fish, or shellfish. There may also be quantifiable consequences of ecosystem change for a broader human audience. Maybe the change has affected some ecosystem-level functions, and maybe some of these functions could be considered ecosystem services on which humans on a local, regional, or global scale depend.


Ecosystem Service Invasive Species Native Species Zebra Mussel Water Hyacinth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Blossey, B., and Notzold, R. 1995. Evolution of increased competitive ability in invasive nonindigenous plants: a hypothesis. Journal of Ecology 83:887–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen, J., Mirotchnick, N., and Leung, B. 2007. Thousands introduced annually: the aquarium pathway for non-indigenous plants to the St Lawrence Seaway. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5:528–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Connell, J., and Slatyer, R. 1977. Mechanisms of succession in natural communities and their role in community stability and organization. The American Naturalist 111:1119–1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cote, S. D., Rooney, T. P., Tremblay, J. P., Dussault, C., and Waller, D. M. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35:113–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Didham, R. K., Tylianakis, J. M., Hutchison, M. A., Ewers, R. M., and Gemmell, N. J. 2005. Are invasive species the drivers of ecological change? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20:470–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ehrenfeld, J., and Scott, N. 2001. Invasive species and the soil: effects on organisms and ecosystem processes. Ecological Applications 11:1259–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Georghiou, G. P. 1990. Overview of insecticide resistance. In Managing Resistance to Agrochemicals: From Fundamental Research to Practical Strategies, ed. Green, M. B., LeBaron, H. M., and Moberg, W. K., pp. 18–41. Washington: American Chemical Society.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goodrich, J., and Buskirk, S. 1995. Control of abundant native vertebrates for conservation of endangered species. Conservation Biology 9:357–1364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Levine, J. 2000. Species diversity and biological invasions: relating local process to community pattern. Science 288:852–854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. MacDougall, A., and Turkington, R. 2005. Are invasive species the drivers or passengers of change in degraded ecosystems? Ecology 86:42–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
  12. Odum, E. P. 1969. The strategy of ecosystem development. Science 164:262–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pimentel, D., Lach, L., Zuniga, R., and Morrison, D. 2000. Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. BioScience 50:53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pimentel, D., McNair, S., Janecka, J., Wightman, J., Simmonds, C., O’Connell, C., Wong, E., Russel, L., Zern, J., and Aquino, T. 2001. Economic and environmental threats of alien plant, animal, and microbe invasions. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 84:1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sagoff, M. 2005. Do non-native species threaten the natural environment? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18:215–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Simberloff, D. 2005. Non-native species do threaten the natural environment! Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18:595–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Solow, A., and Costello, C. 2004. Estimating the rate of species introductions from the discovery record. Ecology 85:1822–1825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tilman, D. 1985. The resource-ratio hypothesis of plant succession. American Naturalist 125:827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Toft, J., Simenstad, C., Cordell, J., and Grimaldo, L. 2003. The effects of introduced water hyacinth on habitat structure, invertebrate assemblages, and fish diets. Estuaries and Coasts 26:746–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Torchin, M., and Mitchell, C. 2004. Parasites, pathogens, and invasions by plants and animals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2:183–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Vitousek, P. M., Mooney, H. A., Lubchenco, J., and Melillo, J. M. 1997. Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems. Science 277:494–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Denison UniversityGranvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations