Invasion biology and its discontents: Human supremacy, language, and animal treatment

Helen Kopnina*, Simon Coghlan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


Invasion biology is increasingly facing criticism, including for its moral attitudes towards “invasive alien species.” In this paper, we argue that invasion biology relies upon ethical assumptions of human supremacy that are reflected in and reinforced by language used to categorize introduced animals in morally problematic ways. We discuss how denigratory scientific, official, and widely used terms such as “invasive,” “alien,” “pest,” and “feral” interact with the dubious treatment of animals, and we examine several aspects of how the demonizing meaning of these terms are shaped. The shaping factors we focus on are the differential treatment of “invasives” versus humans and other ecologically damaging animals, namely animals in agriculture, and the stock and performative treatment of animals labelled “invasive aliens.” We propose that such language should be essentially removed from biological and conservation sciences and consigned to history’s dustbin. In-deed, invasion biologists should come together to find a new name for their discipline—or rather, for the discipline “invasion biology” might become when it jettisons its assumptions of human supremacy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6512
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalVisions for Sustainability
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Invasion biology and its discontents: Human supremacy, language, and animal treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this