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Pronounced /ˈbaɪəɪnˌveɪʒən/Help with pronunciation

This term seems to be new, but has recently been popularised through a book by Chris Bright of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC, called Life Out of Bounds, Bio-invasion in a Borderless World. He describes how the traditional geographical barriers between species have broken down as a result of human activity. Plants and animals are transported on purpose or by accident all around the world by carriage on ships and aircraft. Ecosystems that have been isolated for millions of years are being invaded by exotic species, with catastrophic effects. The Everglades are being taken over by the Australian melaleuca tree, the Asian tiger mosquito is greatly expanding its range, bringing dengue fever and other diseases, the Amazonian water hyacinth has spread along the margins of Lake Victoria, where it impedes fishing, and Leidy’s comb jelly has been introduced to the Black Sea, where it has caused the collapse of the ecosystem. The consequences of bioinvasions are sometimes called biopollution. The term may be new, but the concept has been well understood among ecologists for many years; some are even predicting that in a century or so all we shall have left are the versatile and aggressive species.

Because it brings the intelligence of evolution to bear, bioinvasion is a kind of “smart” pollution.

AmeriScan, Oct. 1998

In 1993, for example, the Office of Technology Assessment estimated the economic cost of 79 major bioinvasions at $97 billion.

New Scientist, Nov. 1998

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 14 Nov. 1998
Last updated: 28 Nov. 1998

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-bio6.htm
Last modified: 28 November 1998.