Invasive species: part of the price of doing business

February 13, 2009

When the sun rides low on the horizon and winter chills wrap us all in down and fleece, global trade brings blueberries from South America, oranges from Israel. But trade in exotic goods also comes with significant local economic costs, explains Charles Perrings, professor of environmental economics at Arizona State University.

In the rush to market, products also bring hitchhikers: invasive species. These exotics often overtake native species, ravage agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and damage ecosystems and, ultimately, economics. Disproportionately so in developing countries’ economies, Perrings says. In a presentation at the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting on Feb. 13, Perrings tables an issue that, he says, currently attracts more expenditures than any other environmental problem. Download Full Image

How can what seems like only a few zebra mussels and Mediterranean fruit flies (Medfly) have such a large economic effect? Besides obvious direct impacts of pathogens and losses to biodiversity, disrupted ecosystems also lose resilience, the ability to spring back from environmental challenges and human-based insults.

The numbers are staggering. Perrings, whose four-volume Ecological Economics has just been published, refers to one estimate that the annual economic damage due to invasive species is equal to 53 percent of agricultural GDP in the United States, 31 percent in the United Kingdom and 48 percent in Australia, but 96 percent, 78 percent and 112 percent of agricultural GDP in South Africa, India and Brazil, respectively. What is the solution? In a nutshell: thinking locally and acting globally. According to Perrings’ study “individual countries need to consider how to contain trade-related species dispersal and international cooperation needs to act to reduce the invasive species risks of trade – especially those stemming from poor country exports.”  

Perrings’ studies in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University focus on the role of global drivers of biodiversity change, particularly trade in altering ecosystems services and in developing both institutional and policy responses. He and colleague Ann Kinzig, associate professor in ASU School of Life Sciences, direct the ecoSERVICES group in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This group operates a number of international research programs, including “Advancing Conservation in a Social Context,” funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The ecoSERVICES group concentrates on “the causes and consequences of change in ecosystem services – the benefits that people derive from the biophysical environment – and analyzes biodiversity change in terms of its impacts on the things that people care about.”

Most recently, a group of researchers from ecoSERVICES, in partnership with the Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments at ASU, were awarded $2 million grant by the National Science Foundation. The Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Energy Supply (SINEWS) project will examine the resilience and sustainability of power and water infrastructures in semi-arid urban settings.

“The principle challenge to building a science of sustainability is the development of predictive models of systems change that enable society to evaluate mitigation options alongside adaptation,” says Perrings.

The economic problems posed by invasive species, he believes, will require “measures to ‘internalize’ the external costs of trade – to confront exporters and importers with the true cost of their actions.”

“But, it also requires defensive measures to mitigate import risks, to control established invasive species, and to coordinate international action to regulate trade routes,” Perrings adds. “This problem is particularly difficult to contend with in low income countries. They are vulnerable to the effects of invasive species, but also have fewer resources to adopt effective sanitary or other control measures.”

What could these insights mean on one’s own home turf? The recent move to buy locally, combined with well regulated imports might come with an added pay-off to the pocket book, as well carbon foot print: healthier ecosystems.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost


Wrestling splits match results, but falls to CSUF

February 14, 2009

The Arizona State University wrestling team won five of the 10 matches contested, but it was not enough to prevail in the team race as the visiting Titans of CS Fullerton escaped from Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe with a 20-18 dual victory in Pac-10 action Saturday afternoon. The results of the dual, the final regular season action for both teams, pushed the Sun Devils to a 5-8 overall record and 3-4 mark in the Pac-10 this season while the Titans improved to 11-6 and 5-3 in the league.

Heading into the dual, the Sun Devils and Titans had met in four individual matches earlier this year at the Reno Tournament of Champions with both sides winning two matches each. Today's dual opened at 184 pounds with ASU's Jake">">Jake Meredith looking to avenge a loss to Tim Hawkins in Reno and succeeded in that quest as he scored a 3-0 decision to stake the Sun Devils to an early 3-0 lead. Download Full Image

That lead did not last long as Jake">">Jake Cranford took the 197 match into overtime tied at 3-3 with John Drake, but the Titan scored a takedown mid-way through the extra session to take the 5-3 win and tie the team race. One match later, Imanibom"> Etukeren dropped a 5-0 decision to Kurt Klimek at heavyweight to put CSUF on top, 6-3.

The Sun Devils reclaimed the lead at 125 pounds as No. 12 Anthony">">... Robles dominated Andre Gonzalez in a 15-0 technical fall. Robles opened with an early takedown and then turned his opponent for three points four different times in the first period to build a 14-0 lead before Gonzalez allowed Robles to escape two seconds into the second period to end the match. Leading 8-6, the Sun Devils lost the lead at 133 as No. 13 TJ Dillashaw won a 16-0 technical fall over David">">David Prado to put the visitors on top, 11-8.

At 141 pounds, No. 6 Chris">">Chris Drouin gave up a takedown in the first period to Adin Duenas and fought his way back to score a takedown late in the third period to take a 5-3 lead before Duenas escaped at the buzzer to make it a 5-4 final for Drouin. The Sun Devil ends his dual season with a 12-1 dual record with 10 of those wins coming by major decision or better.

Tied at 11-11, the 149 match proved to be the pivotal result as Vicente">">... Varela scored an early takedown, but CSUF's Teddy Astorga eventually caught Varela and stuck him in 2:54 to put six points on the Titans's side and give the hosts a 17-11 lead. Steven DeLeFuente gave the Titans a 20-11 lead after 157 as he scored a 5-1 decision over Michael">"... Swigart.

Needing wins with bonus points, the Sun Devils went to work and Kyle">">Kyle DeBerry scored an 8-2 decision at 165 pounds over Brian Stills to cut the deficit to six (20-14) with match remaining. The final match, also a rematch from earlier this year, saw Eric">">Eric Starks, fresh off his upset of No. 11 Kyle Bressler of Oregon State on the road last week, take on Todd Noel, who won the earlier match in Reno, 2-1. Starks, who was looking for the pin to tie the team score, scored early on a takedown and worked tirelessly for turns, but could not get a pin and instead had to settle for the 12-2 major decision and ASU falling, 20-18.

The Sun Devils will be off from competition until March 1-2 when they head to Fullerton for the 2009 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships. New this year, only the conference winner at each weight class will earn an automatic berth into the national meet with the rest of the field filled out by the NCAA selection committee. CS Fullerton (11-6, 5-3 Pac-10) defeats Arizona State (5-8, 3-4 Pac-10), 20-18
Saturday, February 14, 2009 - Wells Fargo Arena (Tempe)
184 - Jake">">Jake Meredith (AS) dec. Tim Hawkins, 3-0
197 - John Drake (CF) dec. Jake">">Jake Cranford, 5-3 sv
285 - Kurt Klimek (CF) dec. Imanibom"> Etukeren, 5-0
125 - #12 Anthony">">... Robles (AS) tech fall Andre Gonzalez, 15-0 (3:02)
133 - #13 TJ Dillashaw (CF) tech fall David">">David Prado, 16-0 (4:55)
141 - #6 Chris">">Chris Drouin (AS) dec. Adin Duenas, 5-4
149 - Teddy Astorga (CF) pinned Vicente">">... Varela, 2:54
157 - Steven DeLeFuente (CF) dec. Michael">"... Swigart, 5-1
165 - Kyle">">Kyle DeBerry (AS) dec. Brian Stills, 8-2
174 - Eric">">Eric Starks (AS) major Todd Noel, 12-2
Referee: Cody Olson; Attend: 327