The Economics of Biological Invasions

The Economics of Biological Invasions

Edited by Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone

The growth of international trade and travel means that more species are being introduced to more places than ever before. This book represents the first concerted effort to understand the economic causes and consequences of biological invasions. The volume discusses the theoretical and methodological issues raised by invasion, including control strategies, modelling options, and a study of the economic, institutional and policy conditions that predispose countries to biological invasions. Also included are case studies of fisheries, agricultural systems, tropical forests and protected areas affected by invasive species in locations such as the Black Sea, Australia and Africa, and an evaluation of control programmes.

Chapter 6: Weed invasions of Australian farming systems: from ecology to economics

Andrew R. Watkinson, Robert P. Freckleton and Peter M. Dowling

Subjects: environment, ecological economics


Andrew R. Watkinson, Robert P. Freckleton and Peter M. Dowling* 1 INTRODUCTION Many of the world’s worst pest infestations result from the introduction of alien species. In the case of weeds of farming systems, examples include the invasion of Bromus tectorum into western North America (Mack, 1981), Amarathus retroflexus in Eastern Europe (Thomas and Annal, 1995) and the introduction of Avena fatua into Western Europe during the Iron Age. In Australia such invaders form a prominent component of the biota with approximately 11 per cent (1952 species) of the Australian flora being made up of alien species. In some states the proportion of the biota that is alien is considerably higher, with 21, 25 and 23 per cent of species in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, respectively, being introduced (Groves, 1997). These species can pose a considerable threat to both natural and managed ecosystems. In farming systems, in particular, introduced weeds are a major economic burden. In crops, the weeds Chondrilla juncea, Heliotropium europaeum and Avena fatua are estimated to cost A$10m, A$40m and A$42m, respectively; in pastures Echium plantagineum, Onopordum spp. and Vulpia spp. are estimated to cost A$30m, A$20m and A$30m, respectively (CSIRO, 1997). Where the economic state of farming may be somewhat precarious, particularly during droughts, profits are marginal and these losses are significant. In order to better manage such problems, a modelling approach has increasingly been adopted. Models have been developed, for example, to predict...

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