Biological invasion costs reveal insufficient proactive management worldwide

Ross N. Cuthbert*, Christophe Diagne, Emma J. Hudgins, Anna Turbelin, Danish A. Ahmed, Céline Albert, Thomas W. Bodey, Elizabeta Briski, Franz Essl, Phillip J. Haubrock, Rodolphe E. Gozlan, Natalia Kirichenko, Melina Kourantidou, Andrew M. Kramer, Franck Courchamp

*Corresponding author for this work

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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. Furthermore, there is no quantification of the spending difference between pre-invasion (e.g. prevention) and post-invasion (e.g. control) stages, although preventative measures are considered to be the most cost-effective. Here, we use a comprehensive database of invasive alien species economic costs (InvaCost) to synthesise and model the global management costs of biological invasions, in order to provide a better understanding of the stage at which these expenditures occur. Since 1960, reported management expenditures have totalled at least US$95.3 billion (in 2017 values), considering only highly reliable and actually observed costs — 12-times less than damage costs from invasions ($1130.6 billion). Pre-invasion management spending ($2.8 billion) was over 25-times lower than post-invasion expenditure ($72.7 billion). Management costs were heavily geographically skewed towards North America (54%) and Oceania (30%). The largest shares of expenditures were directed towards invasive alien invertebrates in terrestrial environments. Spending on invasive alien species management has grown by two orders of magnitude since 1960, reaching an estimated $4.2 billion per year globally (in 2017 values) in the 2010s, but remains 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than damages. National management spending increased with incurred damage costs, with management actions delayed on average by 11 years globally following damage reporting. These management delays on the global level have caused an additional invasion cost of approximately $1.2 trillion, compared to scenarios with immediate management. Our results indicate insufficient management — particularly pre-invasion — and urge better investment to prevent future invasions and to control established alien species. Recommendations to improve reported management cost comprehensiveness, resolution and terminology are also made.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153404
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the French National Research Agency (ANR-14-CE02-0021) and the BNP-Paribas Foundation Climate Initiative for funding the InvaCost project and the work on InvaCost database development. The present work was conducted in the frame of InvaCost workshop carried in November 2019 (Paris, France) and funded by the AXA Research Fund Chair of Invasion Biology and is part of the AlienScenario project funded by BiodivERsA and Belmont-Forum call 2018 on biodiversity scenarios. RNC was funded through a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (ECF-2021-001) from the Leverhulme Trust and a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. DAA is funded by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) (PR1914SM-01) and the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) internal seed funds (187092 & 234597). CA was funded by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). TWB acknowledges funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Marie Skodowska-Curie fellowship (Grant No. 747120). FE was funded through the 2017?2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND programme, and with the funding organisation Austrian Science Foundation FWF (grant I 4011-B32). NK is funded by the basic project of Sukachev Institute of Forest SB RAS, Russia (Project No. 0287-2021-0011; data mining) and the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 21-16-00050; data analysis).


  • Biosecurity
  • Delayed control and eradication
  • Global trends
  • InvaCost
  • Invasive alien species
  • Socio-economic impacts


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