U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Shwiff, S., S. Shwiff, J. Holderieath, W. Haden-Chomphosy, and A. Anderson. 2018. Economics of invasive species damage and damage management. pgs. 35-59. In: W.C. Pitt, J.C. Beasley, and G.W Witmer, editors. Ecology and Management of terrestrial vertebrate invasive species in the United States. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 403 pp.


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Annually, the estimated damage caused by invasive species in the United States has exceeded $100 billion, becoming one of the leading causes of environmental change and global biodiversity loss (Wilcove et al. 1998; Mack et al. 2000; Sala et al. 2000; Pimentel et al. 2005). Invasions by nonnative species highlight the undeniable link and feedback loops between ecological and economic systems (Perrings et al. 2002; Julia et al. 2007). Ecological systems determine if the conditions are suitable for invasion by nonnative species; however, economic systems help fuel the introduction of nonnative species and are themselves affected by invasive species when the ecosystem’s ability to provide services is diminished or when livestock or crops are made unmarketable (Julia et al. 2007).

Invasive species have played an important role in U.S. agriculture. While some of the goods cultivated by the U.S. agricultural sector are indigenous plant and animal species, many are introduced; a minimum of 4542 species currently existing in the United States originated from outside its borders (Office of Technology Assessment 1993). Introduced species, such as corn, wheat, rice, as well as cattle, poultry, and other livestock, are all important commodities produced by the U.S. agricultural sector. Some introduced species have potential conservation values as well, providing food and shelter for native species, acting as catalysts for restoration, serving as substitutes for extinct species, and augmenting ecosystem services (Schlaepfer et al. 2011). A distinction can be drawn, then, between introduced species and invasive species. Like introduced species, invasive species are nonnative to that ecosystem; however, invasive species have the potential to cause harm, whether measured economically, environmentally, or as a human health hazard (The White House 1999).

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