Taming the terminological tempest in invasion science

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 1 of this Preprint.


Download Preprint


Ismael Soto Almena, Paride Balzani, Lais Carneiro, Ross N. Cuthbert, Rafael Macedo, Ali Serhan Tarkan, Danish A. Ahmed, Alok Bang, Karolina Bacela-Spychalska, Sarah A. Bailey, Thomas Baudry, Liliana Ballesteros, Alejandro Bortolus, Elizabeta Briski, J. Robert Britton, Milos Buric, Morelia Camacho-Cervantes, Carlos Cano-Barbacil, Denis Copilaș-Ciocianu, Neil Coughlan, Pierre Courtois, Zoltan Csabai, Tatenda Dalu, Vanessa De santis, James W.E. Dickey, Romina Dimarco, Jannike Falk-Andersson, Romina Fernandez, Margarita Florencio, Ana Clara S. Franco, Emili Garcia-Berthou, Daniela Giannetto, Milka Glavendekic, Michal Grabowski, Gustavo Heringer, Ileana Herrera, Huang Wei, Katie L. Kamelamela, Natalia I. Kirichenko, Antonin Kouba, Melina Kourantidou, Irmak Kurtul, Gabriel Laufer, Boris Lipták, Chulong Liu, Eugenia Lopez-López, Vanessa Lozano, Stefano Mammola , Agnese Marchini, Valentyna Meshkova, Laura Meyerson, Marco Milardi, Dimitrii L. Musolin, Martin Nuñez, Francisco J. Oficialdegui, Jiri Patoka, Zarah Pattision, Adam Petrusek, Daniela Pincheira-Donoso, Maria Piria, Anna Probert, Jes Jessen Rasmussen, David Renault, Filipe Ribeiro, Gil Rilov, Tamara B. Robinson, Axel Sanchez, Evangelina Schwindt, Josie South, Peter Stoett, Hugo Verreycken, Lorenzo Vilizzi, Yong-Jian Wang, Yuya Watari, Priscilla M Wehi, Andras Weiperth, Peter Wiberg-Larsen, Sercan yapici, Baran Yoğurtçuoğlu, Rafael Zenni, Bella S. Galil, Jaimie T.A. Dick, James Russell, Anthony Ricciardi, Daniel Simberloff, Corey J.A. Bradshaw, Phillip J. Haubrock


Standardized terminology in science is important for clarity of interpretation and communication. In invasion science — a dynamic and quickly evolving discipline — the rapid proliferation of technical terminology has lacked a standardized framework for its language development. The result is a convoluted and inconsistent usage of terminology, with various discrepancies in descriptions of damages and interventions. A standardized framework is therefore needed for a clear, universally applicable, and consistent terminology to promote more effective communication across researchers, stakeholders, and policymakers. Inconsistencies in terminology stem from the exponential increase in scientific publications on the patterns and processes of biological invasions authored by experts from various disciplines and countries since the 1990s, as well as publications by legislators and policymakers focusing on practical applications, regulations, and management of resources. Aligning and standardizing terminology across stakeholders remains a prevailing challenge in invasion science. Here, we review and evaluate the multiple terms used in invasion science (e.g. 'non-native', 'alien', 'invasive' or 'invader', 'exotic', 'non-indigenous', 'naturalized, 'pest') to propose a more simplified and standardized terminology. The streamlined framework we propose and translate into 28 other languages is based on the terms (i) 'non-native', denoting species transported beyond their natural biogeographic range, (ii) 'established non-native', i.e. those non-native species that have established self-sustaining populations in their new location(s) in the wild, and (iii) 'invasive non-native' — populations of established non-native species that have recently spread or are spreading rapidly in their invaded range actively or passively with or without human mediation. We also highlight the importance of conceptualizing 'spread' for classifying invasiveness and 'impact' for management. Finally, we propose a protocol for classifying populations based on (1) dispersal mechanism, (2) species origin, (3) population status, and (4) impact. Collectively and without introducing new terminology, the framework that we present aims to facilitate effective communication and collaboration in invasion science and management of non-native species.




Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


biological invasion, classification, communication, non-English language, non-native, polysemy, synonymy, Classification, Communication, non-English language, non-native, polysemy, synonymy


Published: 2023-09-06 05:23


No Creative Commons license

Additional Metadata


Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data and code can be found at: https://github.com/IsmaSA/Invasion-science-terminology

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.