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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 2021 study estimated that invasive species have cost North America $2 billion per year in the early 1960s to over $26 billion per year since 2010 (Crystal-Ornela, R. et al. 2021). Globally, it is estimated that the economic cost of invasive species has been $1.288 trillion over the past 50 years (Zenni, R.D. et al. 2021).

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


  • Biological Invasion Costs Reveal Insufficient Proactive Management Worldwide

    • May 2022; available online Feb 2022
    • Science of the Total Environment 819 (2022) 153404

    • The global increase in biological invasions is placing growing pressure on the management of ecological and economic systems. However, the effectiveness of current management expenditure is difficult to assess due to a lack of standardised measurement across spatial, taxonomic and temporal scales.

      Research Highlights:

      • Since 1960, management for biological invasions totalled at least $95.3 billion.
      • Damage costs from invasions were substantially higher ($1130.6 billion).
      • Pre-invasion management spending is 25-times lower than post-invasion.
      • Management and damage costs are increasing rapidly over time.
      • Proactive management substantially reduces future costs at the trillion-$ scale.
  • Invasive Pests Have Cost New Zealand Billions

    • Aug 15, 2022
    • University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom).

    • Invasive species are well known for their huge ecological costs, but they also bring a massive economic burden with sociological, environmental and health impacts. New research led by the University of Aberdeen and the University of Auckland in collaboration with CNRS, France has established that invasive species have cost the New Zealand economy almost $100 billion in the last 50 years. While damage costs remain high, this total includes spending far more than most other countries on pre and post-invasion management techniques relative to its GDP.

  • Invasive Species Bullfrog and Snake Cost World $16bn - Study

    • Jul 29, 2022
    • BBC News.

    • Scientists tallying the economic damage wrought by invasive pests across the world found two species are responsible for more harm than any other.

      The American bullfrog and brown tree snake have collectively caused $16.3bn in global damage since 1986. In addition to ecological harm, the invasive pair have ruined farm crops and triggered costly power outages.

  • Economic Costs of Biological Invasions within North America

  • How Much Are Invasive Species Costing Us?

    • Mar 31, 2021
    • 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.

  • Invasive Species Cost UK Economy Over £5 Billion Over Past 40-50 Years

    • July 29, 2021
    • Queen's University Belfast (United Kingdom).

    • Research led by Queen’s University Belfast has shown that invasive species, such as the grey squirrel, European rabbit and Japanese knotweed, have cost the UK economy over £5 billion over the past 40-50 years. This is one of the highest totals in Europe. Invasive species, those introduced and spreading outside of their native range as a result of human activities, are a growing threat to environments worldwide. Environmental impacts of invasive species, one of the main causes of biodiversity loss, are well-studied. However, few studies have summarised their economic impacts. This study is the largest and most up-to-date combination of economic costs of biological invasions in the UK. The results have been published in the journal NeoBiota.

  • Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: Economics of Invasive Species

  • Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: Sectoral Impacts of Invasive Species in the United States and Approaches to Management

    • 2021
    • USDA. Forest Service.

    • Open access book, Chapter 9  (pages 203-229): Invasive Species in Forests and Rangelands of the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the United States Forest Sector

      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.

  • InvaCost Database: Economic Cost Estimates Associated with Biological Invasions

    • figshare.

    • InvaCost is the most up-to-date, comprehensive, standardized and robust data compilation and description of economic cost estimates associated with invasive species worldwide. InvaCost has been constructed to provide a contemporary and freely available repository of monetary impacts that can be relevant for both research and evidence-based policy making.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government