Volume 1, 2018

On the History, Politics and Science of Invasion Ecology

Ninad Avinash Mungi
Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248 001
Qamar Qureshi
Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248 001

Published 2023-09-04


  • Bio- nativism; exotic introduction; postmodern ecology; value-neutrality.

How to Cite

Avinash Mungi, N., & Qureshi, Q. (2023). On the History, Politics and Science of Invasion Ecology. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 1, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.29195/DSSS.01.01.0009


The socio-political influence on conservation science has always been contested. One such arena, which has aroused much interest, is of biological invasions. Owing to the inherent paradoxes and dilemmas in defining geographies and impacts, invasion ecology was criticized for being value-driven. The present study explores value-judgements in the evolution of invasion ecology, by reviewing the historical and modern opinions that identified species with their geographic origin or perceived impacts. We found ‘weediness’ to be the primitive term that identified species as inherently ‘bad’ and was rooted in the biblical thoughts of the Dark Age. Western enlightenment and oriental connectivity questioned such claim of species being inherently ‘bad’. Particularly, naturalist and geological expeditions after the 15 century observed that the species that were transferred out of their range, induce negative impacts on the native ecosystem. We found this phenomenon politicized during the late 19 and 20 century, where species were identified with political boundaries, leading to malpractices of ‘exotic introduction’ and extreme ‘bio-nativism’. ‘Biological invasion’ was a scientific term of the 1950s, but the post-World War society perceived this ‘invasion’ with its martial influence. In the subsequent years, a quantitative and technological revolution in long-term ecological monitoring challenged the normative way of perceiving an ecosystem equilibrium or identifying changes brought to it by an invasive species. With the current science-values interface in the subject, we conclude that value-judgements about managing invasive species can help achieve conservation goals; however, its influence on the conceptualization of ecology can distort the scientific premise and should be avoided.


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