Wednesday April 19, 2023


By invading new environments, some alien species have caused disastrous consequences for local species and ecosystems, as well as for human activities—damage to infrastructure, crops, forest plantations, fishing yields, health and tourism. The areas affected are multiple and the damage is costly.

In a new study published in Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, an international research team led by scientists from the Écologie, systématique et évolution (CNRS/Université Paris-Saclay/AgroParisTech) reveals an explicit order of magnitude: the global economic impact of these biological invasions is equivalent to that of natural catastrophes. From 1980 to 2019, financial losses due to invasive alien species amounted to $1,208 billion (US), compared to nearly $1,914 billion in losses caused by storms, $1,139 billion attributed to earthquakes and $1,120 billion due to floods.

Scientists have also found that the costs of biological invasions increased more rapidly than those of natural disasters over a given period. Invasive alien species have a long-lasting and cumulative effect: for example, the zebra mussel is capable of attaching itself to a wide variety of substrates, wreaking havoc on everything from ship hulls to nuclear power plant pipes. Its spread is particularly problematic in North America.

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