EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 11 - 2012 Num. article: 2012/252

A review of research on biological invasions

Species introductions of anthropogenic origins are a major aspect of rapid ecological change globally. The literature on biological invasions is enormous; it has grown rapidly since the mid-twentieth century as scientists, managers, policy makers, and the public have become increasingly aware of the many applied issues of managing invasive species, as well as the fundamental ecological questions raised by biological invasions. This paper identified 2398 relevant studies of the biological invasions literature. A majority of these studies (58%) were dealing with hypotheses for causes of biological invasions, while studies on impacts of invasions were the next most common (32% of the publications). 1537 papers were examined in greater detail in a systematic review. Superior competitive abilities of invaders, environmental disturbance, and invaded community species richness were the most common hypotheses examined. Most studies examined a single hypothesis. Almost half of the papers were field observation studies. Although this research was widely distributed globally, studies were clustered in North America, Western Europe, Eastern Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, with smaller clusters in South Africa, temperate South America, China, and scattered studies elsewhere. A dramatic lack of studies was noted for the tropics. Studies of terrestrial invasions dominate the literature, with most of these concerning plant invasions.


Lowry E, Rollinson EJ, Laybourn AJ, Scott TE, Aiello-Lammens ME, Gray SM, Mickley J, Gurevitch J (2012) Biological invasions: a field synopsis, systematic review, and database of the literature. Ecology and Evolution. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.431/pdf