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C·I·B authors contribute to book highlighting the economic impacts of non-native species

Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plant, Animal, and Microbe Species (Second Edition) front cover

Researchers at the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) are among the contributors to a new book that provides information on how non-native species invade ecosystems, their subsequent environmental effects, and estimates on the economic costs of these impacts.

The book, entitled Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plant, Animal, and Microbe Species (Second Edition), provides the most current, single-source reference on the topic. The volume reiterates the diverse and unpredictable roles that non-native species assume as they invade new ecosystems. These include: destruction of vital crops and forests, major damages to ecosystems leading to loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and water loss.

With nine chapters, this book provides detailed information on the major components of problems associated with biological invasions from six continents, including impacts on human health and livestock. C·I·B researchers contributed to two chapters examining non-native species in South African ecosystems and the ways in which these species impact ecosystem dynamics.

Dave Richardson, the C·I·Bís Deputy Director: Science Strategy based at Stellenbosch University and Brian van Wilgen, Chief Ecologist in the CSIR Natural Resources and Environment Unit, both contributed to a chapter focussing on the economic impacts of invasive alien plants in terrestrial ecosystems in South Africa. These impacts are estimated at over R1 billion annually, but are presumably much greater as many aspects of this problem have not been adequately studied. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to have attempted to estimate the national-level size of the problem.

Other C·I·B contributions were captured in a chapter focussing on invasive vertebrates of South Africa. Authors of this chapter included Berndt van Rensburg (University of Pretoria), Olaf Weyl (South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity), Sarah Davies (Stellenbosch University), Nicola van Wilgen (South African National Parks and C·I·B PhD student when the chapter was written), Christian Chimimba (University of Pretoria) and Dian Spear (Stellenbosch University). This chapter outlines the extent and impacts of introductions of freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds in South Africa. It also provides information on what has been done and what needs to be done to deal with the problem of alien vertebrates in South Africa. A large number and wide variety of vertebrates have been introduced to South Africa, some of which, especially the fish have substantial impacts.

Order the book

Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plant, Animal, and Microbe Species (Second Edition) can be ordered from:

Amazon.com or (in South Africa) Kalahari.net