Introduction pathways of economically costly invasive alien species

Anna J. Turbelin*, Christophe Diagne, Emma J. Hudgins, Desika Moodley, Melina Kourantidou, Ana Novoa, Philip J. Haubrock, Camille Bernery, Rodolphe E. Gozlan, Robert A. Francis, Franck Courchamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction pathways play a pivotal role in the success of Invasive Alien Species (IAS)—the subset of alien species that have a negative environmental and/or socio-economic impact. Pathways refer to the fundamental processes that leads to the introduction of a species from one geographical location to another—marking the beginning of all alien species invasions. Increased knowledge of pathways is essential to help reduce the number of introductions and impacts of IAS and ultimately improve their management. Here we use the InvaCost database, a comprehensive repository on the global monetary impacts of IAS, combined with pathway data classified using the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) hierarchical classification and compiled from CABI Invasive Species Compendium, the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) and the published literature to address five key points. Data were available for 478 individual IAS. For these, we found that both the total and annual average cost per species introduced through the ‘Stowaway’ (US$144.9bn; US$89.4m) and ‘Contaminant’ pathways (US$99.3bn; US$158.0m) were higher than species introduced primarily through the ‘Escape’ (US$87.4bn; US$25.4m) and ‘Release’ pathways (US$64.2bn; US$16.4m). Second, the recorded costs (both total and average) of species introduced unintentionally was higher than that from species introduced intentionally. Third, insects and mammals, respectively, accounted for the greatest proportion of the total cost of species introduced unintentionally and intentionally respectively, at least of the available records; ‘Stowaway’ had the highest recorded costs in Asia, Central America, North America and Diverse/Unspecified regions. Fourthly, the total cost of a species in a given location is not related to the year of first record of introduction, but time gaps might blur the true pattern. Finally, the total and average cost of IAS were not related to their number of introduction pathways. Although our findings are directly limited by the available data, they provide important material which can contribute to pathway priority measures, notably by complementing studies on pathways associated with ecologically harmful IAS. They also highlight the crucial need to fill the remaining data gaps—something that will be critical in prioritising limited management budgets to combat the current acceleration of species invasions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2061-2079
Number of pages19
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Exotic mammals
  • Introduction pathways
  • InvaCost
  • Invasive alien species
  • Management
  • Monetary impact
  • Non-native insects
  • Policy


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