Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2015


Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2015


Copyright © 2015 Avery Messing


Non-native species are invading foreign ecosystems at a rate that has never been seen before, and they cause significant damage to these ecosystems. In order to preserve species diversity, these invasive organisms are often eradicated. Typically, conservation biologists run a cost-benefit analysis to determine what action they should take. In this project, I identify the need to also conduct ethical analyses. I chose three scenarios in which invasive species are eradicated: yellow crazy ants on Christmas Island, barred owls in the Pacific Northwest, and leafy spurge in the central United States. Each of these scenarios was analyzed using two ethical theories: utilitarianism and biophilia.

Ultimately, whether or not it is permissible to eradicate invasive species depends on the specific details of the situation. In most cases, it is permissible to use lethal control measures when it is the most cost-efficient option, or the fastest way to prevent future suffering. Additionally, lethal control is permissible when it is necessary to do so in order to preserve the biodiversity found within the ecosystem.