- For the idea of forceful imposition of western environmental views on developing countries see Eco-imperialism
Ecological imperialism is the idea that the introduction of plants, animals, and diseases by Europeans to settler colonies was an underlying factor in the success of the European colonization of the New World, Australia, New Zealand, India, Siberia, and parts of Africa.
For example, the conquest of the Spaniard Hernan Cortes over the Aztecs was aided foremost by the introduction of European diseases into the Aztec population. Many more natives died from exposure to new diseases than died from the guns and other superior weaponry of the conquistadors.
Tuberculosis was brought to New Zealand by Captain Cook. It and other diseases heavily infected the indigenous Maori population. Pigs and cattle were introduced during the early 19th century where land was adapted to suit herding. Grass seed was introduced into the biota specially bred to improve the quality of sheep. Other ecological changes resulted by way of British resource developments such as whaling and forestry which spun out from the economic system, forcing the Maori to adapt or face significant changes at a disadvantage. Foresty led to an increase in labour and commerce, but also in housing, and thus the development of Pakeha (the Maori term for European) settlements that would only grow larger.
The idea was popularized in Alfred Crosby's 1986 book Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 in which he postulates that European expansion and imperialism in the New World can be explained predominantly by ecological factors. Similar themes are also discussed in Jared Diamond's 1997 book Guns, Germs, and Steel, although Diamond also describes certain technological advancements as critical, without a singular focus on ecological/agricultural factors alone (as the book's title suggests).Template:Euro-stub