Researchers point out need for greater investment to prevent biological invasions

by William G. Gilroy

The Dec. 7 edition of the scientific journal The Proceedings of the Royal Society of London contains a paper in which a team of University of Notre Dame biologists offer a framework that merges ecology and economics to identify optimal strategies, acceptable risks and the economic consequences of invasive species.p. David Lodge and Gary Lamberti, professors of biological sciences, and Brian Leung, research associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, write that invasive species, which are increasing rapidly worldwide, are a major cause of extinctions and are economically expensive, costing the United States alone $137 billion annually. Yet rigorous quantitative risk analysis frameworks for invasive species are lacking.p. The researchers present a quantitative bio-economic modeling framework to analyze risks from invasive species to economic activity and the environment. They applied the model to zebra mussels and found that society could benefit by spending up to $324,000 a year to prevent invasions into a single lake with a power plant. In contrast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent $825,000 in 2001 to manage all aquatic invaders in all U.S. lakes. The biologists argue that greater investment in prevention is warranted.p. Economists David Finnoff from the University of Central Florida and Jason Shogren from the University of Wyoming, and mathematician Mark Lewis from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, also contributed to the paper.p. Lodge coauthored an article in October in the journal Science that suggested a method of identifying invasive species that are likely to become nuisances if introduced in the Great Lakes.p. The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the independent scientific academy of the United Kingdom and is dedicated to promoting excellence in science.p.

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