Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Identifying the ecological and societal consequences of a decline in Buxus forests in Europe and the Caucasus.

Abstract

The potential impact of new invasive tree pests and diseases is usually quantified in economic terms. The ecological and social impacts are less often assessed. Using a comprehensive literature review we assess the potential ecological and social impact of two non-native invasive species (the box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis and the fungus Calonectria pseudonaviculata) that threaten the survival of box tree, Buxus spp. in forests in Europe and the Caucasus. A total of 132 fungi, 12 chromista (algae), 98 invertebrate and 44 lichens were found to use Buxus spp. Of these, 43 fungi, 3 chromista and 18 invertebrate species have only been recorded on Buxus spp., suggesting that these species are obligate on Buxus spp. and are most at risk from in the loss of Buxus spp. due to these invasive pest and disease species. Buxus spp. was shown to be important for soil stability and water quality but there was no information on other ecosystem functions provided by Buxus spp. Buxus was found to be of considerable historical cultural importance but there was very limited information on current social values and uses. Buxus trees, wood and leaves are associated with different folklore and sacred rites which are still particularly important in the Caucasus. While we could not find any assessment of the economic value of Buxus forests the biodiversity, cultural and social values of Buxus identified here indicate that its loss could have major indirect and non-market economic effects. This work highlights the importance of studying the ecological and societal implications of biological invasions.