Surprisingly high economic costs of biological invasions in protected areas

Desika Moodley, Elena Angulo, Ross N. Cuthbert, Brian Leung, Ana Novoa, Melina Kourantidou, Gustavo Heringer, Marine Robuchon, Jean Fantle-Lepczyk, Franck Courchamp, Christophe Diagne

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16 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Biological invasions are one of the main threats to biodiversity within protected areas (PAs) worldwide. Meanwhile, the resilience of PAs to invasions remains largely unknown. Consequently, providing a better understanding of how they are impacted by invasions is critical for informing policy responses and optimally allocating resources to prevention and control strategies. Here we use the InvaCost database to address this gap from three perspectives: (i) characterizing the total reported costs of invasive alien species (IAS) in PAs; (ii) comparing mean observed costs of IAS in PAs and non-PAs; and (iii) evaluating factors affecting mean observed costs of IAS in PAs. Our results first show that, overall, the reported economic costs of IAS in PAs amounted to US$ 22.24 billion between 1975 and 2020, of which US$ 930.61 million were observed costs (already incurred) and US$ 21.31 billion were potential costs (extrapolated or predicted). Expectedly, most of the observed costs were reported for management (73%) but damages were still much higher than expected for PAs (24%); in addition, the vast majority of management costs were reported for reactive, post-invasion actions (84% of management costs, focused on eradication and control). Second, differences between costs in PAs and non-PAs varied among continents and environments. We found significantly higher IAS costs in terrestrial PA environments compared to non-PAs, while regionally, Europe incurred higher costs in PAs and Africa and Temperate Asia incurred higher costs in non-PAs. Third, characterization of drivers of IAS costs within PAs showed an effect of environments (higher costs in terrestrial environments), continents (higher in Africa and South America), taxa (higher in invertebrates and vertebrates than plants) and Human Development Index (higher in more developed countries). Globally, our findings indicate that, counterintuitively, PAs are subject to very high costs from biological invasions. This highlights the need for more resources to be invested in the management of IAS to achieve the role of PAs in ensuring the long term conservation of nature. Accordingly, more spatially-balanced and integrative studies involving both scientists and stakeholders are required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
Early online date04 Feb 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 04 Feb 2022


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