I’ve been working on the economics of invasive species for awhile now…
I started doing research on the economics of invasive species almost twenty five years ago in Hawaii, when Dr. James Roumasset had a grant from The Nature Conservancy Hawaii. to look in to the topic. With public goods problems; missing information problems; impacts from concentration in the production of scientific information; (spatial) management challenges that extend across stages of potential intervention from research, prevention, early detection and rapid response to containment, control, or adaptation; externalities; and ecological, hydrological, and bio-economic complexities, it’s been a fabulous umbrella for a wide and varied research career in applied microeconomics (and even some theory).
I’ve learned the many benefits of working with natural scientists and resource managers. I’ve become well versed in the bio-economic consequences of snakes that can reproduce parthenogenetically from a single specimen, frogs that can be heard while driving down the highway at 50 mph with the windows up, trees that can wipe out a French Polynesian hillside or change an island’s freshwater supplies, species of crabs that are harbingers of global ecological and economic challenges from climate change, challenging concepts of sustainability, changing socio-ecological systems, and threatening international fisheries cooperation and the Svalbard Treaty of 1920. (Inter alia, this means I’m never short of conversation at the dinner table or cocktail receptions).
And today it continues! With new overview-level research published on Arctic invasive species:
The rate of change in Arctic marine environments in response to shifts driven by climate change
threatens Arctic resilience. The growing recognition and visibility of these changes have scientific
and social roots. Mitigating these consequences is therefore a social-scientific concern. Multiple
scales, perspectives, and governance systems for Arctic marine environments, alongside receding
climate and economic barriers to species movements and scientific research, create challenges and
opportunities that differ in magnitude and breadth from marine invasions elsewhere. The receding
barriers in the marine Arctic amplify the potential ecological and economic consequences from new
species introductions and range expansions from adjacent biomes. While there is consensus that
marine invasive species can cause severe damages to ecosystems and resource-dependent
communities, which species pose what threats, and to whom, remain complex dynamic
socioecological and biogeophysical economic questions. Decisions over prevention, detection, and
monitoring along with institutional frameworks for cooperating and responding to threats also
affect the expected severity of impacts. Technologies, and costs, for identifying and monitoring
species compositions and risks are evolving, with novel research advances as well as increasingly
sophisticated ecological-economic, environmental niche, and habitat suitability models. Despite
advances in understanding drivers and dynamics of new species introductions, a dearth of baseline
knowledge regarding Arctic marine invasions remains. Potential consequences extend beyond
ecosystem changes and include legal, institutional, and social shifts. Studies on the red king and snow
crab invasions in the Barents Sea from multiple disciplinary angles showcase complex social,
economic, and ecological interconnections that are transforming communities and ecosystems.
Image credit: Brooks A. Kaiser. (c) 2021. All rights reserved. A ride on the Alaska Marine Highway.