I'm looking for a technical term to describe the study of infestations of invasive species. It seems that "epidemiology" is defined (by WHO) as

the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems. Various methods can be used to carry out epidemiological investigations: surveillance and descriptive studies can be used to study distribution; analytical studies are used to study determinants.

But it also seems that this word has a "human disease" component thoroughly baked into it.

Specifically, I am writing a report that concerns an infestation of a specific kind of insect in a forest. Can I say something like "botanical epidemiology"? The insect causes a disease within trees which kills them.

I am just wondering if there is a word specifically for invasive species infestations.

  • 1
    I wouldn't say this is strictly off-topic here, but I'd advise you to ask this on sites more dedicated to such topics, for instance BiologySE. Jan 15, 2018 at 12:24
  • The study of disease vectors seems to be called vector biology. I cannot find any definitive references, but there are plenty of vector biology courses available.
    – Mick
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:02
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    Metaphorically it makes sense; invasive plants are to a biome like a virus or bacteria is to an organism. However, using 'epidemiology' or 'ecological epidemiology' (or some other qualifier) is confusing, is it about the biome or the individual organisms or a mix of both and in what way? I don't know what the ecologists use for it but it doesn't involve 'epidemiology'.
    – Mitch
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


An "invasive species" is usually defined as a species that is non-native to a certain ecosystem and can spread so easily as to causes ecological imbalance and harm to the environment and/or human health.

  • An invasive species is a plant, fungus, or animal species that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species), and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health. Wikipedia

  • Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare. Wikipedia

If you don't want to include the health effects caused by an invasive species, I suggest you use "propagation and ecological damage" in substitution for epidemiology.

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