Invasive Species

This note is about the notion of non-native, invasive species.

It relates to colonial issues, ecological and environmental ethics, aesthetics and notions such as Dirt.

Cf. Springer book series Invading Nature on 'invasion ecologies'.

Cf. weed ecology

Context and Definitions

Barker, Kezia, and Robert A. Francis, eds. Routledge Handbook of Biosecurity and Invasive Species. London: Routledge, 2021.

Everts, Jonathan, and Karl Benediktsson. “Pangaea’s Return: Towards an Ontology of Invasive Life.” Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 97, no. 2 (2015): 131–38.

Concepts and Search Terms

Special Issue Editorial: ‘Recombinant Ecologies in the City’ - Ilaria Vanni, Alexandra Crosby, 2020 (

Seeks to provide neutral and biogeographically informed terminology for 'invasive' species.

Colautti, Robert I., and Hugh J. MacIsaac. ‘A Neutral Terminology to Define “Invasive” Species’. Diversity and Distributions 10, no. 2 (2004): 135–41.

Blackburn, Tim M., Petr Pyšek, Sven Bacher, James T. Carlton, Richard P. Duncan, Vojtěch Jarošík, John R. U. Wilson, and David M. Richardson. ‘A Proposed Unified Framework for Biological Invasions’. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26, no. 7 (2011): 333–39.

Brown, Bryan L., and Jacob N. Barney. ‘Rethinking Biological Invasions as a Metacommunity Problem’. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8 (2021).

Iannone, Basil, Shannon Carnevale, Martin Main, Jeff Hill, Julie McConnell, Steven Johnson, Stephen Enloe, et al. ‘Invasive Species Terminology: Standardizing for Stakeholder Education’. The Journal of Extension 58, no. 3 (2020).

The Obverse

By contrast with the concept of 'invasion', some advocate 'assisted migration'.

Moving Trees: Definitions and Ethics of Assisted Migration - Northwest Natural Resource Group (

Dumroese, R. Kasten, Mary I. Williams, John A. Stanturf, and J. Bradley St. Clair. ‘Considerations for Restoring Temperate Forests of Tomorrow: Forest Restoration, Assisted Migration, and Bioengineering’. New Forests 46, no. 5–6 (2015): 947–64.

Cultural Attitudes

Sees dark motives of xenophobia, nativism, and racism at work in the activity against introduced species (SR: rarely justified, as shown below).

Peretti, Jonah H. ‘Nativism and Nature: Rethinking Biological Invasion’. Environmental Values, 1998, 183–92.

Argues that ecological harm is demonstrable and is the real compelling reason to manage invasive species.

Simberloff, Daniel. ‘Confronting Introduced Species: A Form of Xenophobia?’ Biological Invasions 5, no. 3 (2003): 179–92.

What is the right attitudes towards invasive species where their eradication is impossible and their removal would lower biodiversity?

What is the right attitudes in the environment with few or no native species, such as in highly degraded environments, inhospitable environments or extra-terrestrial environments?

Youatt, Rafi. Interspecies Politics: The Nature of States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2020.

Gbedomon, Rodrigue C., Valère K. Salako, and Martin A. Schlaepfer. ‘Diverse Views Among Scientists on Non-Native Species’. NeoBiota 54 (2020): 49–69.


There is an overview chapter on weeds here:

Seddon, George. The Old Country: Australian Landscapes, Plants and People. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

On the ecology of weeds and invasive plants:

Radosevich, Steven R., Jodie S. Holt, and Claudio Ghersa. Ecology of Weeds and Invasive Plants: Relationship to Agriculture and Natural Resource Management. 3rd ed. 1997. Reprint, Hoboken: Wiley-Interscience, 2007.

McKieran, Shaun. “Amenity Migration and the Changing Nature of Invasive Plant Management: A Case Study of Bega Valley, New South Wales, Australia.” PhD Thesis, University of Wollongong, 2018.

On the ethics of invasiveness as a concept:

Inglis, Meera Iona. ‘Wildlife Ethics and Practice: Why We Need to Change the Way We Talk About “Invasive Species”’. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 33, no. 2 (2020): 299–313.

Warren, Charles R. ‘Beyond “Native V. Alien”: Critiques of the Native/Alien Paradigm in the Anthropocene, and Their Implications’. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 2021, 1–31.


Evans, Clinton L. The War on Weeds in the Prairie West: An Environmental History. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2002.

Inderjit, ed. Management of Invasive Weeds. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

Argüelles, Lucía, and Hug March. “Weeds in Action: Vegetal Political Ecology of Unwanted Plants.” Progress in Human Geography 46, no. 1 (2022): 44–66.

An overview of cultural history:

Edwards, Nina. Weeds. London: Reaktion Books, 2015.

Indigenous perspectives:

Bach, Thomas M., Christian A. Kull, and Haripriya Rangan. “From Killing Lists to Healthy Country: Aboriginal Approaches to Weed Control in the Kimberley, Western Australia.” Journal of Environmental Management, The human and social dimensions of invasion science and management, 229 (2019): 182–92.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass. Minneapolis: Milkweed, 2013.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003.

Bach, Thomas Michael, and Brendon M. H. Larson. “Speaking About Weeds: Indigenous Elders’ Metaphors for Invasive Species and Their Management.” Environmental Values 26, no. 5 (2017): 561–81.

In the context of management for restoration:

Rieger, John P. Project Planning and Management for Ecological Restoration. Washington: Island Press, 2014.

Cooke, Benjamin, and Ruth Lane. “Plant–Human Commoning: Navigating Enclosure, Neoliberal Conservation, and Plant Mobility in Exurban Landscapes.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 108, no. 6 (2018): 1715–31.

Argüelles, Lucía, and Hug March. “Weeds in Action: Vegetal Political Ecology of Unwanted Plants.” Progress in Human Geography 46, no. 1 (2022): 44–66.

Rethinking Weeds

Dwyer, John. “Messages and Metaphors: Is It Time to End the ‘War on Weeds’?” In 18th Australasian Weeds Conference: Developing Solutions to Evolving Weed Problems, edited by Valerie Eldershaw, 297–305. Melbourne: Australasian Weeds Conference, 2012.


Norton, Briony A., Gary D. Bending, Rachel Clark, Ron Corstanje, Nigel Dunnett, Karl L. Evans, Darren R. Grafius, et al. “Urban Meadows as an Alternative to Short Mown Grassland: Effects of Composition and Height on Biodiversity.” Ecological Applications 29, no. 6 (2019): e01946.