While the subset of introduced species that become invasive is small, the damages caused by that subset and the costs of controlling them can be substantial. This chapter takes an in-depth look at the economic damages non-native species cause, methods economists often use to measure those damages, and tools used to assess invasive species policies. From Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the United States Forest Sector.
Economic and Social Impacts
The economic and social impacts of invasive species include both direct effects of a species on property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, and outdoor recreation, as well as costs associated with invasive species control efforts. A 2005 study estimated that the economic damages associated with invasive species in the United States reached approximately $120 billion/year (FWS 2012).
Examples of species with agricultural impacts include leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), a plant that was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and has since invaded large areas of the Great Plains Region, decreasing the grazing capacity for livestock (Leistritz et al. 2004), and the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), an insect that was recently eradicated from the U.S. and has caused severe economic losses to cotton farmers in Arizona and California due to reduced yields, decreased quality, and increased control costs (Henneberry and Naranjo 1998).
Examples of non-agricultural economic impacts include zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), which block intake pipes for power generation and water treatment facilities, and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), which can reduce the populations of commercially significant fish species through predation (Rosaen et al. 2016).
See also: General Invasive Species Impacts
- Henneberry, T.J., and S.E. Naranjo. 1998. Integrated management approaches for pink bollworm in the southwestern United States. Integrated Pest Management Reviews 3(1):31-52.
- Leistritz, F.L., D.A. Bangsund, and N.M. Hodur. 2004. Assessing the economic impact of invasive weeds: The case of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). Weed Technology 18:1392-1395.
- Rosaen, A.L., E.A. Grover, and C.W. Spencer. 2016. The Costs of Aquatic Invasive Species to Great Lakes States (PDF | 1.20 MB) East Lansing, Mich.: Anderson Economic Group.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2012. The cost of invasive species (PDF | 831 KB)
USDA. Forest Service.
French National Centre for Scientific Research.
Scientists from the CNRS, the IRD, and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle have just released the most comprehensive estimate to date of the financial toll of invasive species: nearly $1.3 trillion over four decades. Published in Nature (31 March 2021), their findings are based on the InvaCost database, which is financed by the BNP Paribas Foundation and the Paris-Saclay University Foundation’s AXA Chair of Invasion Biology. The annual expenses generated by biological invasions are only increasing, with no sign of any slowing.
CABI scientists have conducted the first comprehensive study on the economic impact of a range of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on Africa's agricultural sector, which they estimated to be USD $3.6 trillion a year. This is equivalent to 1.5 times the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all African countries combined – or similar to that of Germany. The average annual cost of IAS per country was USD $76.32 billion. Full details of the cost for individual countries are outlined in the paper published in the journal CABI Agriculture and Bioscience.
USDA. Forest Service.
Invasive species have a major effect on many sectors of the U.S. economy and on the well-being of its citizens. Their presence impacts animal and human health, military readiness, urban vegetation and infrastructure, water, energy and transportations systems, and indigenous peoples in the United States. They alter bio-physical systems and cultural practices and require significant public and private expenditure for control. This chapter provides examples of the impacts to human systems and explains mechanisms of invasive species' establishment and spread within sectors of the U.S. economy. From Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the United States Forest Sector.
The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Economic and Social Impacts
Council or Task Force
National Invasive Species Council Secretariat.
To better understand the impacts of invasive species on infrastructure managed by the federal government an effort was undertaken by the National Invasive Species Council Secretariat to solicit feedback from those agencies. A questionnaire was sent out to the federal agencies that manage infrastructure to identify the impacts they have observed, how they are managing them, issues they have identified and resource needs. The research demonstrated that impacts from invasive species on federally managed infrastructure range from non-existent to significant. Identified gaps needing improvement include awareness and education of invasive species impacts, limited resources, insufficient policy, and lack of agency support. See also: NISC and NISC Secretariat Products for more resources
Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Washington Invasive Species Council.
Oregon Sea Grant; Oregon State University; DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Prepared for the Oregon Invasive Species Council.
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
This guide will assist Pacific island practitioners to use the costs that result from invasive species incursions to gain support to fund prevention, management, restoration, research, and outreach. For more knowledge resources, please visit the Pacific Battler Resource Base.
Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (Australia).
Global Invasive Species Programme.
Invasive alien species are more often than not pigeon-holed as an environmental or biodiversity issue, and consequently – especially in developing countries – do not receive due recognition by policy-makers. Yet the reality is that they are a major threat to human livelihoods, especially to agriculture and therefore food security, and are generally undermining human well-being. Moreover, ongoing globalisation and increasing trade are escalating the problem to critical proportions. We hope that this booklet will contribute towards a better understanding of these links and to placing invasive species firmly on the development agenda. See also: GISP Publications and Reports for more resources
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa); Global Invasive Species Programme.
See also: GISP Publications and Reports for more resources
Invasive Species Centre. Asian Carp Canada.
USDA. APHIS. National Wildlife Research Center.
Managers often struggle to calculate the ecological and economic costs associated with invasive species. Yet, knowing these impacts can boost support and understanding for invasive species management. In a new book chapter, NWRC economist Dr. Stephanie Shwiff and colleagues describe how economists determine costs of both primary and secondary impacts from invasive species and how these translate into jobs and revenue in regional economies.
Weed Science Society of America.
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from their weed management toolbox? A team of experts with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) found that in the U.S. and Canada, about half of both crops would be lost to uncontrolled weeds, costing growers about $43 billion annually.