About this Research Topic
Biological invasions are recognized as one of the major environmental problems worldwide and a myriad of negative effects on ecosystem processes, biotic interactions and human health have already been documented. Whilst many invasive species do have negative impacts, a more nuanced approach is emerging that recognizes that many may have little effect or even, in some cases, make a positive contribution. In the past there was a reluctance to recognize the positive effects associated with biological invasions due, in part, to preconceptions about alien species introductions and the limitations of many experimental investigations on invasive species impacts, including a paucity of long-term studies. In this Research Topic we aim to address these issues to provide a more balanced overview of the impact of biological invaders, together with an assessment of its practical and evolutionary significance.
Since Elton’s 1958 ‘The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants’ most research has focused on the negative effects of biological invasions with the implicit and/or explicit intent of identifying ways that these might be eradicated. In truth, there had always been evidence that invasive species may not always have negative impacts and contemporary studies have shown that alien introductions can contribute, for instance, to the enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This represents a significant dilemma for the biological invasions community, given its overall negative focus, and warrants a better appreciation of any benefits that might arise and how best to deal with them. The question is when and where do invasive species have positive effects, and on what processes and to what extent? The same species, for instance, may have negative effects under some circumstances, positive effects under other circumstances, or even no effect under others. Any impact may also depend on how biological invaders are integrated into existing biological networks. More detailed information of this kind is also required for the effective management and restoration of previously invaded communities.
We welcome submissions that address the following:
• A better understanding of the totality of impacts of biological invasions at the community and ecosystem scales in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
• Longer-term integration into biological networks and trophic cascades
• Do any positive effects of biological invasions have demonstrably social or economic benefits?
• How do we deal with any positive benefits? Are they still unwanted?
• Implications for eradication, management and restoration
• Ecological and evolutionary implications
We are looking for a variety of contributions, including relevant experimental work, reviews, or opinion pieces. The objective is to produce a thought-provoking series of articles that provides a more critical appraisal of the impacts, including the positive impacts, of biological invaders.
Keywords: biological invasions, negative and neutral effects, positive effects
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.