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Abstract

Science-based strategies to tackle biological invasions depend on recent, accurate, well-documented, standardized and openly accessible information on alien species. Currently and historically, biodiversity data are scattered in numerous disconnected data silos that lack interoperability. The situation is no different for alien species data, and this obstructs efficient retrieval, combination, and use of these kinds of information for research and policy-making. Standardization and interoperability are particularly important as many alien species related research and policy activities require pooling data. We describe seven ways that data on alien species can be made more accessible and useful, based on the results of a European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) workshop: (1) Create data management plans; (2) Increase interoperability of information sources; (3) Document data through metadata; (4) Format data using existing standards; (5) Adopt controlled vocabularies; (6) Increase data availability; and (7) Ensure long-term data preservation. We identify four properties specific and integral to alien species data (species status, introduction pathway, degree of establishment, and impact mechanism) that are either missing from existing data standards or lack a recommended controlled vocabulary. Improved access to accurate, real-time and historical data will repay the long-term investment in data management infrastructure, by providing more accurate, timely and realistic assessments and analyses. If we improve core biodiversity data standards by developing their relevance to alien species, it will allow the automation of common activities regarding data processing in support of environmental policy. Furthermore, we call for considerable effort to maintain, update, standardize, archive, and aggregate datasets, to ensure proper valorization of alien species data and information before they become obsolete or lost.
PERSPECTIVE
published: 30 June 2017
doi: 10.3389/fams.2017.00013
Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics | www.frontiersin.org 1June 2017 | Volume 3 | Article 13
Edited by:
Aristides Moustakas,
Queen Mary University of London,
United Kingdom
Reviewed by:
Sarah Supp,
University of Wisconsin-Madison,
United States
Davide Francesco Tagliapietra,
ISMAR-Marine Sciences Institute in
Venice (CNR), Italy
*Correspondence:
Quentin J. Groom
quentin.groom@plantentuinmeise.be
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Environmental Informatics,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and
Statistics
Received: 12 March 2017
Accepted: 15 June 2017
Published: 30 June 2017
Citation:
Groom QJ, Adriaens T, Desmet P,
Simpson A, De Wever A, Bazos I,
Cardoso AC, Charles L,
Christopoulou A, Gazda A,
Helmisaari H, Hobern D, Josefsson M,
Lucy F, Marisavljevic D, Oszako T,
Pergl J, Petrovic-Obradovic O,
Prévot C, Ravn HP, Richards G,
Roques A, Roy HE, Rozenberg M-AA,
Scalera R, Tricarico E, Trichkova T,
Vercayie D, Zenetos A and
Vanderhoeven S (2017) Seven
Recommendations to Make Your
Invasive Alien Species Data More
Useful. Front. Appl. Math. Stat. 3:13.
doi: 10.3389/fams.2017.00013
Seven Recommendations to Make
Your Invasive Alien Species Data
More Useful
Quentin J. Groom 1*, Tim Adriaens2, Peter Desmet 2, Annie Simpson 3, Aaike De Wever 4,
Ioannis Bazos 5, Ana Cristina Cardoso 6, Lucinda Charles 7, Anastasia Christopoulou 5,
Anna Gazda 8, Harry Helmisaari 9, Donald Hobern 10, Melanie Josefsson 11 , Frances Lucy 12,
Dragana Marisavljevic 13, Tomasz Oszako 14, Jan Pergl 15, Olivera Petrovic-Obradovic 16 ,
Céline Prévot 17, Hans P. Ravn18 , Gareth Richards 7, Alain Roques 19, Helen E. Roy 20 ,
Marie-Anne A. Rozenberg 19, Riccardo Scalera 21 , Elena Tricarico 22, Teodora Trichkova 23 ,
Diemer Vercayie 24, Argyro Zenetos 25 and Sonia Vanderhoeven 26
1Botanic Garden Meise, Bouchout Domain, Meise, Belgium, 2Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Brussels, Belgium,
3U.S. Geological Survey, Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries Program, Reston, VA, United States, 4Aquatic and
Terrestrial Ecology, Operational Directorate Natural Environment, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels,
Belgium, 5Department of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens,
Panepistimiopolis, Greece, 6EASIN, European Commission Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Joint Research
Centre, Ispra, Italy, 7CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, 8Department of Forest Biodiversity,
University of Agriculture in Krakow, Krakow, Poland, 9Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland, 10 Global Biodiversity
Information Facility, Copenhagen, Denmark, 11 Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Stockholm, Sweden, 12 CERIS,
Institute of Technology, Sligo, Ireland, 13 Institute for Plant Protection and Environment, Belgrade, Serbia, 14 Forest Research
Institute, Raszyn, Poland, 15 Department of Invasion Ecology, Institute of Botany, The Czech Academy of Sciences,
Pr
uhonice, Czechia, 16 Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia, 17 SPW-DEMNA, Département de
l’Étude du Milieu Naturel et Agricole, Gembloux, Belgium, 18 Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management,
Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark, 19 INRA, UR633, Zoologie Forestière, Orléans,
France, 20 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, United Kingdom, 21 IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group,
Rome, Italy, 22 Università degli Studi di Firenze, Firenze, Italy, 23 Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian
Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria, 24 Natuurpunt, Mechelen, Belgium, 25 Institute of Marine Biological Resources and
Inland Waters, HCMR, Anavyssos, Greece, 26 Belgian Biodiversity Platform, Walloon Research Department for Nature and
Agricultural Areas, Service Public de Wallonie, Gembloux, Belgium
Science-based strategies to tackle biological invasions depend on recent, accurate,
well-documented, standardized and openly accessible information on alien species.
Currently and historically, biodiversity data are scattered in numerous disconnected data
silos that lack interoperability. The situation is no different for alien species data, and
this obstructs efficient retrieval, combination, and use of these kinds of information
for research and policy-making. Standardization and interoperability are particularly
important as many alien species related research and policy activities require pooling
data. We describe seven ways that data on alien species can be made more accessible
and useful, based on the results of a European Cooperation in Science and Technology
(COST) workshop: (1) Create data management plans; (2) Increase interoperability of
information sources; (3) Document data through metadata; (4) Format data using existing
standards; (5) Adopt controlled vocabularies; (6) Increase data availability; and (7) Ensure
long-term data preservation. We identify four properties specific and integral to alien
species data (species status, introduction pathway, degree of establishment, and impact
mechanism) that are either missing from existing data standards or lack a recommended
Groom et al. Making Alien Species Data Useful
controlled vocabulary. Improved access to accurate, real-time and historical data will
repay the long-term investment in data management infrastructure, by providing more
accurate, timely and realistic assessments and analyses. If we improve core biodiversity
data standards by developing their relevance to alien species, it will allow the automation
of common activities regarding data processing in support of environmental policy.
Furthermore, we call for considerable effort to maintain, update, standardize, archive, and
aggregate datasets, to ensure proper valorization of alien species data and information
before they become obsolete or lost.
Keywords: checklists, data interoperability, data management plan, introduced species, non-indigenous, non-
native, pest species, standards
1. INTRODUCTION
Sound decision-making to minimize the risk associated with the
introduction of alien species requires accurate and up-to-date
data and the knowledge derived from them. These data feed
into a wide range of processes to tackle problematic invasive
alien species and are needed to develop an appropriate, evidence-
based response (Table 1). Horizon scanning (the systematic
examination of future potential threats and opportunities,
leading to their prioritization), risk assessment, risk management,
early detection and rapid response all depend on accurate and
accessible data [14]. So, although alien species data are little
different from data on other species, the demands we place on
these data are considerable and specific.
Current invasive alien species policies depend on the
availability and quality of data. For example, the EU regulation
no. 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species [5], requires member
states to report on the status of invasive alien species of
Union concern and their progress in managing them, likewise
similar regulations exist in other countries, such as the
USA [6]. Responsible authorities need access to timely and
validated data and they need to report this in a standardized
way, so it can be collated nationally and internationally.
Within the EU, the European Alien Species Information
Network (EASIN) [7,8] has been developed to this end,
including a mechanism for quality assurance, safeguarding and
improvement [9].
Mitigating and preventing biological invasions present
particular challenges with regard to the quality, relevance and
scope of data sources and infrastructure [10]. The numerous
origins of the data and broad taxonomic scope, combined with
the global geographic extent and input from diverse disciplines
make proper handling of alien species data difficult, but also
necessary. With this perspective, we gathered database managers,
data users, data generators and biodiversity informatics
specialists to outline how alien species data can be made more
useful, taking into account the peculiarities and applications
of such data. This resulted in seven recommendations, which,
if followed, would improve the use of alien species data
for research, policy and management purposes. Some of
these recommendations are not unique to alien species data,
but their impact would be particularly significant in this
discipline.
TABLE 1 | Data/information categories and their invasive alien species-related
evidence-based processes.
Alien species checklists Horizon scanning (e.g., [2])
Selection of species for risk assessment (e.g., [46])
Analysis of pathways of introduction and spread (e.g.,
[43,61,62])
Pathway regulation
Feeding indicators for policy evaluation (e.g., [6365])
Occurrence data of
alien and native species
Species distribution models (e.g., [66,67])
Niche and occupancy modelingRisk modeling and risk
mapping (e.g., [68])
Impact assessment
Risk assessment
Climate matching
Impact research (e.g., [69,70])
Early warning and rapid response programs (e.g.,
[35,71])
Climate data Niche and occupancy modeling
Climate matching (e.g., [72])
Risk assessment
Genetic data Species identification (e.g., [71,73])
Early detection through e-DNA (e.g., [32])
Data on management
actions
Risk management (e.g., [62])
Evaluation of effectiveness of control actions
Cost-benefit analysis of control actions (e.g., [74,75])
Assessment of non-target effects of control actions
2. APPROACH
Correspondence A workshop titled Data for invasive species
research, policy making and management was organized in
Brussels in 2016 with representatives from sixteen European
countries and the United States. The attendees were from
the European Alien Challenge COST1Action, from important
institutions and projects related to alien species data such as
1http://www.cost.eu/
Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics | www.frontiersin.org 2June 2017 | Volume 3 | Article 13
Groom et al. Making Alien Species Data Useful
the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN),
Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe
(DAISIE), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF),
Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN), Centre
for Agriculture and Biosciences International Invasive Species
Compendium (CABI–ISC), and the Biodiversity Information
Standards organization (formerly known as the Taxonomic
Databases Working Group and referred to by the acronym
TDWG). Effort was made to balance participant representation
in terms of gender, country of origin within Europe and
taxonomic and habitat interests (terrestrial, freshwater and
marine).
The workshop consisted of talks and participatory exercises
on four main invasive alien species themes: risk assessment,
horizon scanning, management and monitoring. For each of
these themes, participants reflected on the data needs and
requirements (Table 1), the data sources they commonly use,
and the existing data standards. Materials from the workshop
have been deposited in an open repository [11]. Conclusions
reported by breakout groups were refined and supplemented in
facilitated plenary discussion. Particular attention was paid to the
perspectives of both the data publishers and data users.
During the workshop a number of opportunities for
facilitating proper use and valorization of alien species data was
identified and these resulted in the recommendations presented
below and summarized in Table 2.
3. CREATE DATA MANAGEMENT PLANS
A DMP describes how the information generated by a project
will be handled both during and after it is generated. These plans
define responsibilities; aim to avoid data loss and incompatibility
by indicating how data will be preserved and formatted; stipulate
what metadata are required to understand the data; and consider
data sharing options, including licensing [12].
Such plans are a means to improve data management and are
now commonly required by funding agencies. The US National
Science Foundation has required them since 2010 [13] and
in 2013 the European Commission launched a pilot on open
research data requiring a DMP in the first 6 months of the project
[14]. The DMP approach also encourages journals to change their
policies toward the archiving of data, though it is taking time
for the whole scientific community to embrace these changes
[15,16]. Typical minimum sections of a DMP are: (i) What type
of data and metadata are expected? (ii) Which standards are
used for alien species data? (iii) How should data be shared? (iv)
How should data be permanently preserved? Researchers new to
writing a DMP should refer to their institutional and funding
agency guidelines if any, and, with respect to invasive species
data, recommendations for ecologists [6,17].
Strictly speaking, each recommended action could be
implemented without the need to compile a DMP. However,
preparing and agreeing upon a DMP ensures a holistic
approach to data management and increases its openness and
accountability, while also answering the needs from funding
agencies and institutional data policies [12], so we recommend
their use.
4. DOCUMENT THROUGH METADATA
Good metadata provide information on provenance, scope,
methods, limitations, data formats and units to facilitate correct
data use, as well as license and contact information. USGS’
Data Management Web site2lists multiple tools and best
practices for metadata creation. Several metadata standards
for biodiversity data are available: such as Ecological Markup
Language (EML [18]) adopted by GBIF [19]; the INSPIRE
directive framework (Infrastructure for Spatial Information
in Europe)3, which describes geospatial data and the Data
Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT)4, to describe datasets. We have
not identified any specific metadata standards for alien species
data and recommend the use of the metadata standards above,
for which tools and services are already available [20]. An
example of a tool for metadata standardization is the desktop
application Morpho5, which guides users through the creation
of EML [21]. Morpho can interface with a MetaCat registry
to provide a searchable catalog of ecological datasets. This
technology is used by both the DataONE repository6and
the European Biological Observations Network (EU BON)
[22]. Creating metadata may seem secondary to primary
data curation, but metadata are essential to ensure the data
2https://www2.usgs.gov/datamanagement/describe/metadata.php
3http://inspire.ec.europa.eu
4https://www.w3.org/TR/vocab-dcat/
5https://knb.ecoinformatics.org/#tools/morpho
6http://dataone.org
TABLE 2 | Seven recommendations for improving the usefulness of alien species data.
1 Create and implement data management plans to define the alien species data life-cycle, good data quality and metadata, standardization, data sharing options,
and long-term data preservation.
2 Describe alien species data through metadata, so users can understand their scope and limitations, and use metadata standards (EML, INSPIRE) to facilitate
metadata exchange.
3 Improve interoperability and sustainability of existing and new alien species information sources by exposing the data they contain through standard exchange
formats.
4 Format data using existing standards (Darwin Core, GISIN) and engage in their development through TDWG.
5 Adopt controlled vocabularies to further increase interoperability of data and engage with TDWG to make these compatible with existing standards.
6 Increase data availability by making alien species data openly accessible as soon as possible after collection.
7 Ensure long-term preservation of alien species data by archiving these in existing data repositories (GBIF, Zenodo).
Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics | www.frontiersin.org 3June 2017 | Volume 3 | Article 13
Groom et al. Making Alien Species Data Useful
can be discovered and used in the long term [23]. In the
context of alien species data, improved access to metadata
could enhance the speed with which data are found and
mobilized.
5. IMPROVED INTEROPERABILITY OF
INFORMATION SOURCES
Information on alien species is scattered among a multitude of
sources, including databases; peer-reviewed and gray literature;
unpublished research projects and institutional datasets [8,
24]. Important international sources of these data include
the 2000 Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) of the
IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) [25]; the
2004 Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN);
and the Global Invasive Alien Species Information Partnership
(GIASIP), as well as global information providers such as the
CABI Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) and the Global
Register of Introduced and Invasive Species (GRIIS). Any new
initiative to collate data needs to consider its role and define
its niche within a complex environment of global, continental,
national and regional data repositories [7,26].
Almost any effort to compile and harmonize data from these
sources is impeded by differences in field names, definitions,
and taxonomy, as well as access and license restrictions [3,27].
The use of common standards for all these aspects can improve
the interoperability of these data sources: their data can be
more efficiently exchanged, combined, compared, and presented.
In addition, data processing should ideally be performed in
a repeatable way, to increase the efficiency of activities such
as horizon scanning and risk assessment. For invasion policies
to be proactive, these activities should be repeated at regular
intervals [2].
Online alien species catalogs and invasive alien species
information systems are difficult to keep up-to-date [28,29], yet
they provide a wide variety of valuable information. Funding for
these initiatives has been sporadic at best [28] and is often time-
limited [29]. Thus relevant information stored and managed
within such initiatives become quickly out-dated, and efforts
to keep them updated are often suddenly discontinued. This
tends to spread errors to other systems that are populated with
data from such sources, particularly if provenance is poorly
tracked. As such, the current process restricts alien species
data exchange, aggregation, interoperability and even rescue.
Technological advances have boosted the number of initiatives
[30], but also increased the data’s volume and complexity [23,31
33]. A holistic approach to complex biological questions requires
more from data than a traditional reductionist approach, as
demonstrated by the success of the Gene Ontology [34]. Yet
this poses additional challenges of ensuring data quality, data
curation, interoperability and future-proofing against obsolete
technology and increasing data volumes [35]. Technological
change promises many improvements in data collection, with
systems such as smartphones equipped with built-in GPS, image
capture, external sensors, and automated and expert validation
[31]. Also, advances in species detection through environmental
DNA, such as those of Dejean et al. [32], need support to be
included within alien species initiatives.
We recommend that alien species databases work together to
follow common standards and that these standards are further
developed for emerging data streams.
6. FORMAT DATA USING EXISTING
STANDARDS
Within the scope of a single dataset, data only need to be
formatted consistently to be usable. However, to combine
datasets for broad-scale analysis, a community-defined exchange
format or standard is required to allow data interoperability.
Among the qualities of a “good standard” are that it be
readable (by both humans and machines), simple, learnable and
efficient [36].
The alien species research community is not universally aware
of biodiversity informatics standards, where they come from
and how they can be extended. Standards for the exchange of
biodiversity data, including alien species data, are developed,
discussed and promoted by the Biodiversity Information
Standards organization, TDWG [37]. This organization is the
guardian of Darwin Core, the most widely adopted standard
to exchange biodiversity information related to species [38]. By
following these standards, data managers can avoid duplication
of effort and mistakes. Furthermore, the organization can
give advice and support for updating existing standards and
proposing new ones. It is recommended that the invasive alien
species community continue to engage in TDWG, both to adopt
standards for common terms and to establish standards specific
to invasion biology.
7. ADOPT CONTROLLED VOCABULARIES
FOR FOUR ALIEN SPECIES PROPERTIES
In addition to a standard format to exchange data, specialist
communities often also require further control on the values
of terms to increase interoperability. This can be achieved by
adopting controlled vocabularies. This not only means that data
can be merged, but also contributes to the normative definition
of a term.
Four alien species properties were identified that are either
missing from Darwin Core or lacking a reference to a
recommended controlled vocabulary. These are introduction
pathway, degree of establishment, impact mechanism, and
species status. For each of these, vocabularies exist outside
Darwin Core, yet these currently exist as frameworks and require
further work to be developed into standards.
For pathway terminology, the need for a consistent
classification, hierarchy, and terminology has long been
recognized [3941]. Meanwhile, a standardized hierarchical
pathway classification was adopted by parties to the Convention
of Biological Diversity [42] and is being applied to existing
databases [9,43].
A framework for the degree of establishment has been
presented by Blackburn et al. [44]. This hierarchical
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Groom et al. Making Alien Species Data Useful
classification provides a terminology for populations at
different points in the invasion process (casual/introduced,
alien, naturalized/established, invasive) and allows expression
of the range of establishments from those organisms only kept
in cultivation or captivity through to full naturalization and
invasiveness.
For alien species impact, a classification of categories based
on the magnitude of environmental impacts was developed by
Blackburn et al. [45], and has been adopted by the IUCN in 2016.
However, for impacts other than environmental, such as socio-
economic, plant health, human health and animal health, no
comprehensive overview is available, but several protocols have
been developed for risk assessment that can provide inspiration
for classifications (see [46] for an overview).
Standards from the trade and agriculture sectors can be
useful in describing species status, for example, the International
Plant Protection Conventions International Standard for
Phytosanitary Measures: specifically, IPSM 87, Determining
pest status in an area; and IPSM 68, Guidelines for surveillance.
We recommend these controlled vocabularies are expressed
in a machine-readable format and are referenced from the
appropriate terms in Darwin Core. This is in line with the
recommendations of the GBIF Task Group on Data Fitness for
use in Research into Invasive Alien Species [33].
Additionally, controlled vocabularies might prove helpful
in the dissemination of information on species management
[47]. Good examples are the Global Eradication and Response
Database [48] and the Database of Island Invasive Species
Eradications [49]. The documentation of management actions
in the field and the storage of these data are key to performing
cost-benefit analyses of management measures.
8. INCREASE DATA AVAILABILITY
Much has already been written about the methods and needs
for open data publication [3,17,50]. Beyond the good
intentions, Invasivesnet is a developing global association for
open knowledge and open data on alien species [51]. This
association will facilitate greater understanding, communication,
and improved management of biological invasions globally,
by developing a sustainable network of networks for effective
knowledge exchange. The association fosters tool development
and cyberinfrastructure for the collection, management and
dissemination of data and information on alien species from
a range of sources (e.g., research, citizen science). The key
point is that data should be shared and standardized to ensure
interoperability [52]. In the case of species observation data
a straightforward solution is to publish through a repository
such as GBIF or the Ocean Biogeographic Information System
(OBIS), as it ensures adherence to a minimum of common
standards.
There can be little doubt that data sharing using community
standards and adequate metadata are of benefit to research and
society in general [53]. Yet motivating good data management
7https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/612/
8https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/615/
is not easy when practitioners are not rewarded by their
institutions. However, this is changing [54,55], particular with
the support of aspirational statements such as the Berlin9and
Bouchout10 declarations, which show the willingness of some
institutions and individuals to change. Also, there are now
policy initiatives in place, such as the EU INSPIRE directive11
or the United States Administration’s Open Data Policy12, 13, to
mandate harmonization of spatial data.
9. ENSURE LONG-TERM DATA
PRESERVATION
Under ideal circumstances databases would have funding for
maintenance and updating for as long as they are useful, however,
this is unrealistic. Furthermore, the end of a project is the wrong
time to consider the long-term persistence of data [29,56].
Data actively being curated are often best maintained close to
their source, however, longevity can be built-in to procedures by
periodically depositing data in an open repository, not just on a
personal or university website. Hence, data are protected from
catastrophic events, human attrition, and the slow degradation
of obsolescent hardware, which is the fate of much data [57]. If a
publication is based upon a specific dataset it is good practice to
deposit that precise version in a repository.
Not all repositories are the same, for example the Dryad14
and Zenodo15 repositories are general-purpose repositories able
to accept data in ad hoc formats, not necessarily formatted
to community standards. They provide flexibility, however,
repositories dedicated to one data type provide much greater
opportunities for integration due to their enforcement of
standards. Examples of such repositories are GBIF and GenBank
[58]. Repositories also differ in their ability to embargo the
release of data and in the licensing options. We recommend that
considerable a priori thought goes into data preservation and the
choice of repository.
10. CONCLUSION
Many alien species databases have emerged either before
or without knowledge of existing standards for database
management in biodiversity informatics. Furthermore, existing
standards do not adequately cover all the needs of the research
domain. Not all ecologists have strong information technology
skills, nor are experts in technology-mediated collaboration,
shared instrumentation or standardized data collection [59].
In the rapidly changing information technology landscape,
ecologists and conservationists cannot be expected to keep up
with developments in software and data standards. This should
encourage data managers, wherever possible, to simplify the tools
9https://openaccess.mpg.de/Berlin-Declaration
10http://bouchoutdeclaration.org/
11http://inspire.ec.europa.eu
12https://www.fgdc.gov/standards
13https://project- open-data.cio.gov/IDC/
14http://datadryad.org/
15https://zenodo.org/
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Groom et al. Making Alien Species Data Useful
created for ecological practitioners. This becomes more pressing
as new technologies are used to provide data on alien species.
Many data management issues are common to all biodiversity
data, yet species native range, introduction pathway, degree of
establishment and impact mechanism are specific to alien species.
Additionally, the need for fast dissemination of information
and data is typical to alien species, in particular early detection
and rapid response programs. Proactive responses to biological
invasions require repeatable workflows for horizon scanning
and risk assessment [60]. Adoption of standards and controlled
vocabularies for this information can boost the usefulness for
alien species research, policy-making and policy evaluation.
There is a need for the acceptance of common data standards
that take into consideration the needs of both data collectors
and diverse data users, from the science community to the end
user.
Work is required with the research and education
communities and the standards authorities to ensure that
suggested standards are shepherded through acceptance and
implementation and that these standards are introduced early
within the education of young scientists and promoted among
those in the biodiversity community, so that they are adopted
widely. Improving core biodiversity standards for their content
and usefulness for alien species data will allow the automation
of common activities needed to tackle biological invasions.
We call for considerable effort toward maintaining, updating,
standardizing, and archiving or incorporating current data sets,
to ensure proper valorization of alien species data and resulting
information before they become obsolete or lost.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
QG, ACC, JP, SV, and TA wrote the original briefing note,
which outlined the idea of a workshop on biodiversity data
interoperability for invasive species. SV, QG, TA, PD, AD were the
local organizers of the Workshop and prepared the initial draft of
the paper. HR is Chair of the COST Action and has supported
and attended the workshop. AS participated in the workshop,
contributed to the writing of the paper, and arranged for the
initial peer review of the manuscript through the U.S. Geological
Survey. All other authors contributed to the writing of the paper
and attended the workshop.
FUNDING
This article is based upon work from COST Action TD1209
ALIEN Challenge, supported by COST (European Cooperation
in Science and Technology) www.cost.eu. JP was partly
supported by the long-term research development project no.
RVO 67985939.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We also thank the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, funded by the
Belgian Science Policy Office, for the use of their facilities, and
the U.S. Geological Survey, for previous peer review. Any use
of trade, product, or firm names in this article is for descriptive
purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S.
Government.
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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2017 Groom, Adriaens, Desmet, Simpson, De Wever, Bazos, Cardoso,
Charles, Christopoulou, Gazda, Helmisaari, Hobern, Josefsson, Lucy, Marisavljevic,
Oszako, Pergl, Petrovic-Obradovic, Prévot, Ravn, Richards, Roques, Roy, Rozenberg,
Scalera, Tricarico, Trichkova, Vercayie, Zenetos and Vanderhoeven. This is an open-
access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted,
provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original
publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.
No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these
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Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics | www.frontiersin.org 8June 2017 | Volume 3 | Article 13
... One of the main obstacles that wildlife managers and conservationists face in opposing the threat of invasive species is acquiring rapid, reliable, large-scale baseline information on the distribution of fauna-data which are critical in guiding effective wildlife management programs [10]. A central challenge to this type of monitoring is how to cover a large sampling area with a limited number of researchers (an issue faced by many projects and agencies) and still complete surveys in a short period of time, which has the dual benefit of avoiding temporal bias and providing distribution data quickly. ...
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... The horizon scanning tool is a decision support aid that helps you identify and categorize species that might enter a particular geographic area from another geographic area across geographic regions and taxonomic groups are key to addressing the problems invasive species pose (e.g., van Kleunen et al. 2015), and including new datasets, e.g., including iNaturalist data in IAS assessments, could be fruitful. Bigger datasets could result in higher bias, so careful selection of data and appropriate statistical design should be ensured in order to limit correlated errors when handling big datasets (Deriu et al. 2017;Groom et al. 2017;. Reducing barriers to data sharing and interoperability will significantly improve our ability to respond as quickly as possible to the challenges of biological invasions as trading partners and trade pathways shift and as global change brings new invasive species challenges to the fore. ...
... The horizon scanning tool is a decision support aid that helps you identify and categorize species that might enter a particular geographic area from another geographic area across geographic regions and taxonomic groups are key to addressing the problems invasive species pose (e.g., van Kleunen et al. 2015), and including new datasets, e.g., including iNaturalist data in IAS assessments, could be fruitful. Bigger datasets could result in higher bias, so careful selection of data and appropriate statistical design should be ensured in order to limit correlated errors when handling big datasets (Deriu et al. 2017;Groom et al. 2017;Wang et al. 2018). Reducing barriers to data sharing and interoperability will significantly improve our ability to respond as quickly as possible to the challenges of biological invasions as trading partners and trade pathways shift and as global change brings new invasive species challenges to the fore. ...
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As human communities become increasingly interconnected through transport and trade, there has been a concomitant rise in both accidental and intentional species introductions, resulting in biological invasions. A warming global climate and the rapid movement of people and vessels across the globe have opened new air and sea routes, accelerated propagule pressure, and altered habitat disturbance regimes, all of which act synergistically to trigger and sustain invasions. The complexity and interconnectedness of biological invasions with commerce, culture, and human-mediated natural disturbances make prevention and management of invasive alien species (IAS) particularly challenging. Voluntary actions by single countries have proven to be insufficient in addressing biological invasions. Large gaps between science, management, and policy at various geopolitical scales still exist and necessitate an urgent need for more integrative approach across multiple scales and multiple stakeholder groups to bridge those gaps and reduce the impacts of biological invasions on biodiversity and human well-being. An evidence-based global strategy is therefore needed to predict, prevent, and manage the impacts of IAS. Here we define global strategies as frameworks for evidence-based visions, policy agreements, and commitments that address the patterns, mechanisms, and impact of biological invasions. Many existing global, regional, and thematic initiatives provide a strong foundation to inform a global IAS strategy. We propose five recommendations to progress these toward global strategies against biological invasions, including better standards and tools for long-term monitoring, techniques for evaluation of impacts across taxa and regions, modular regulatory frameworks that integrate incentives and compliance mechanisms with respect to diverse transcultural needs, biosecurity awareness and measures, and synergies with other conservation strategies. This proposed approach for IAS is inclusive, adaptive, and flexible and moves toward global strategies for better preventing and managing biological invasions. As existing research-policy-management networks mature and others emerge, the accelerating need for effective global strategies against biological invasions can finally be met.
... The horizon scanning tool is a decision support aid that helps you identify and categorize species that might enter a particular geographic area from another geographic area across geographic regions and taxonomic groups are key to addressing the problems invasive species pose (e.g., van Kleunen et al. 2015), and including new datasets, e.g., including iNaturalist data in IAS assessments, could be fruitful. Bigger datasets could result in higher bias, so careful selection of data and appropriate statistical design should be ensured in order to limit correlated errors when handling big datasets (Deriu et al. 2017;Groom et al. 2017;. Reducing barriers to data sharing and interoperability will significantly improve our ability to respond as quickly as possible to the challenges of biological invasions as trading partners and trade pathways shift and as global change brings new invasive species challenges to the fore. ...
Chapter
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... The horizon scanning tool is a decision support aid that helps you identify and categorize species that might enter a particular geographic area from another geographic area across geographic regions and taxonomic groups are key to addressing the problems invasive species pose (e.g., van Kleunen et al. 2015), and including new datasets, e.g., including iNaturalist data in IAS assessments, could be fruitful. Bigger datasets could result in higher bias, so careful selection of data and appropriate statistical design should be ensured in order to limit correlated errors when handling big datasets (Deriu et al. 2017;Groom et al. 2017;. Reducing barriers to data sharing and interoperability will significantly improve our ability to respond as quickly as possible to the challenges of biological invasions as trading partners and trade pathways shift and as global change brings new invasive species challenges to the fore. ...
Chapter
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... All areas are International Hydrographic Organization Sea Areas (Flanders Marine Institute (2020)). Data management Groom et al. (2017) made seven recommendations for data management of introduced species, namely: (1) creation of data management plans; ...
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Invasive alien species (IAS) are a key driver of global biodiversity loss. Reducing their spread and impact is a target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG target 15.8) and of the EU IAS Regulation 1143/2014. The use of citizen science offers various benefits to alien species' decision-making and to society , since public participation in research and management boosts awareness, engagement and scientific literacy and can reduce conflict in IAS management. We report the results of a survey on alien species citizen science initiatives within the framework of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action Alien-CSI. We gathered metadata on 103 initiatives across 41 countries, excluding general biodiversity reporting portals, spanning from 2005 to 2020, offering the most comprehensive account of alien species citizen science initiatives on the continent to date. We retrieved information on project scope, policy relevance, engagement methods, data capture, data quality and data management, methods and technologies applied and performance indicators such as the number of records coming from projects, the numbers of participants and publications. The 103 initiatives were unevenly distributed geographically , with countries with a tradition of citizen science showing more active projects. The majority of projects were contributory and were run at a national scale, targeting the general public, alien plants and insects, and terrestrial ecosystems. These factors of project scope were consistent between geographic regions. A peer-reviewed open-access journal NeoBiota Veronica Price-Jones et al. / NeoBiota 78: 1-24 (2022) 2 Most projects focused on collecting species presence or abundance data, aiming to map presence and spread. As 75% of the initiatives specifically collected data on IAS of Union Concern, citizen science in Europe is of policy relevance. Despite this, only half of the projects indicated sustainable funding. Nearly all projects had validation in place to verify species identifications. Strikingly, only about one third of the projects shared their data with open data repositories such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility or the European Alien Species Information Network. Moreover, many did not adhere to the principles of FAIR data management. Finally, certain factors of engagement, feedback and support, had significant impacts on project performance, with the provision of a map with sightings being especially beneficial. Based on this dataset, we offer suggestions to strengthen the network of IAS citizen science projects and to foster knowledge exchange among citizens, scientists, managers, policy-makers, local authorities, and other stakeholders.
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The European Starling is a highly invasive passerine that recently started to expand throughout South America. Despite its negative impacts on the native fauna, there are no reports of its breeding success, the population recruitment rate, or the factors affecting its nest success in these recently invaded natural habitats. In this study we monitored 100 European Starling nests in a native forest of central-eastern Argentina, during the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 breeding seasons. We estimated the most common breeding parameters for the population (clutch size, number of fledglings, nest fate, nest survival) and measured nest-site features at different spatial scales to assess if they affected nest survival. Starlings used natural and woodpecker cavities, and nest initiation peak was in September. Successful nests produced ~ 3 fledglings and estimated nest success was 38%. Daily survival rates were negatively affected by nest-tree diameter at breast height. Nest survival was high compared to native cavity-nesting birds. Moreover, the breeding onset as soon as spring begins favors the successful occupancy of cavities by starlings. Here, we provide the first detailed information on the breeding parameters of the starling in South America, which is now available to help in the design of management programs. Given our results, in addition to their effective cavity usurpation behavior, we believe starlings represent a serious threat for endangered native cavity-nesting species and need to be controlled.
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Invasive alien species (IAS) are a rising threat to biodiversity, national security, and regional economies, with impacts in the hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars annually. Proactive or predictive approaches guided by scientific knowledge are essential to keeping pace with growing impacts of invasions under climate change. Although the rapid development of diverse technologies and approaches has produced tools with the potential to greatly accelerate invasion research and management, innovation has far outpaced implementation and coordination. Technological and methodological syntheses are urgently needed to close the growing implementation gap and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and synergy among evolving disciplines. A broad review is necessary to demonstrate the utility and relevance of work in diverse fields to generate actionable science for the ongoing invasion crisis. Here, we review such advances in relevant fields including remote sensing, epidemiology, big data analytics, environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, genomics, and others, and present a generalized framework for distilling existing and emerging data into products for proactive IAS research and management. This integrated workflow provides a pathway for scientists and practitioners in diverse disciplines to contribute to applied invasion biology in a coordinated, synergistic, and scalable manner.
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Advances in information technology developments have led to improved ways and means of sharing information and good practices in various areas of social development. Providing the necessary tools enables Citizen Sciences (CS) to play an important role in raising awareness and engaging various stakeholders in the prevention of invasive alien species (IAS). In Bulgaria, up until this point, it is poorly developed, and this is largely due to the lack of information to the general public regarding the categorization of species, pathways of introduction and their negative impact. The article examines the possibilities for introduction and use of an advanced ontological model in the area of invasive alien species research, which will aid the process of involving a wide range of stakeholders in various initiatives that will contribute to preventing the introduction and spread of IAS. The researched approach using the advantages of modern information and communication technologies includes acquaintance with the basic concepts in the area of IAS, the processes related to their introduction and spread, as well as taking into account the existing interrelationships, which would provide opportunities for early detection and the rapid eradication of IAS. The developed model will also be applied to measures and policies put in place to change the attitudes of the general public to the problem of IAS.
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Imagine a future where dynamically, from year to year, we can track the progression of alien species (AS), identify emerging problem species, assess their current and future risk and timely inform policy in a seamless data-driven workflow. One that is built on open science and open data infrastructures. By using international biodiversity standards and facilities, we would ensure interoperability, repeatability and sustainability. This would make the process adaptable to future requirements in an evolving AS policy landscape both locally and internationally. In recent years, Belgium has developed decision support tools to inform invasive alien species (IAS) policy, including information systems, early warning initiatives and risk assessment protocols. However, the current workflows from biodiversity observations to IAS science and policy are slow, not easily repeatable, and their scope is often taxonomically, spatially and temporally limited. This is mainly caused by the diversity of actors involved and the closed, fragmented nature of the sources of these biodiversity data, which leads to considerable knowledge gaps for IAS research and policy. We will leverage expertise and knowledge from nine former and current BELSPO projects and initiatives: Alien Alert, Invaxen, Diars, INPLANBEL, Alien Impact, Ensis, CORDEX.be, Speedy and the Belgian Biodiversity Platform. The project will be built on two components: 1) The establishment of a data mobilization framework for AS data from diverse data sources and 2) the development of data-driven procedures for risk evaluation based on risk modelling, risk mapping and risk assessment. We will use facilities from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), standards from the Biodiversity Information Standards organization (TDWG) and expertise from Lifewatch to create and facilitate a systematic workflow. Alien species data will be gathered from a large set of regional, national and international initiatives, including citizen science with a wide taxonomic scope from marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments. Observation data will be funnelled in repeatable ways to GBIF. In parallel, a Belgian checklist of AS will be established, benefiting from various taxonomic and project-based checklists foreseen for GBIF publication. The combination of the observation data and the checklist will feed indicators for the identification of emerging species; their level of invasion in Belgium; changes in their invasion status and the identification of areas and species of concern that could be impacted upon by bioinvasions. Data-driven risk evaluation of identified emerging species will be supported by niche and climate modelling and consequent risk mapping using critical climatic variables for the current and projected future climate periods at high resolution. The resulting risk maps will complement risk assessments performed with the recently developed Harmonia+ protocol to assess risks posed by emergent species to biodiversity and human, plant, and animal health. The use of open data will ensure that interested stakeholders in Belgium and abroad can make use of the information we generate. The open science ensures everyone is free to adopt and adapt the workflow for different scenarios and regions. The checklist will be used at national level, but will also serve as the Belgian reference for international databases (IUCN - GRIIS, EASIN) and impact assessments (IPBES, SEBI). The workflow will be showcased through GEO BON, the Invasivesnet network and the COST Actions Alien Challenge and ParrotNet. The observations and outcomes of risk evaluations will be used to provide science-based support for the implementation of IAS policies at the regional, federal and EU levels. The publication of Belgian data and checklists on IAS is particularly timely in light of the currently ongoing EU IAS Regulation and its implementation in Belgium. By proving that automated workflows can provide rapid and repeatable production of information, we will open up this technology for other conservation assessments.
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The adoption of a consistent alien species pathways categorization, hierarchy and terminology is crucial for increasing the interoperability of different online databases. In the present paper the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) classification system of pathways is compared and discussed with the classification scheme recently published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Although the main pathway categories of the two classifications overall match, there are substantial differences in their subcategorization, with EASIN including 20 pathway subcategories while CBD considers 44 subcategories. In most cases, each EASIN subcategory pathway can correspond to two or more CBD subcategories. About 5,500 species listed in EASIN do not match directly with the CBD pathway subcategories, most of which are terrestrial invertebrates. Aiming at achieving synchronization between the two classification systems and at facilitating the access to information to researchers and policy makers, EASIN is trying to align with the CBD pathway classification scheme. This alignment process requires the involvement of a large number of experts, especially from the terrestrial realm, and the adoption of commonly accepted definitions of the CBD pathways.
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Managing biological invasions relies on good global coverage of species distributions. Accurate information on alien species distributions, obtained from international policy and cross-border cooperation , is required to evaluate trans-boundary and trading partnership risks. However, a standardized approach for systematically monitoring alien species and tracking biological invasions is still lacking. This Perspective presents a vision for global observation and monitoring of biological invasions. We show how the architecture for tracking biological invasions is provided by a minimum information set of Essential Variables, global collaboration on data sharing and infrastructure, and strategic contributions by countries. We show how this novel, synthetic approach to an observation system for alien species provides a tangible and attainable solution to delivering the information needed to slow the rate of new incursions and reduce the impacts of invaders. We identify three Essential Variables for Invasion Monitoring; alien species occurrence, species alien status and alien species impact. We outline how delivery of this minimum information set by joint, complementary contributions from countries and global community initiatives is possible. Country contributions are made feasible using a modular approach where all countries are able to participate and strategically build their contributions to a global information set over time. The vision we outline will deliver wide-ranging benefits to countries and international efforts to slow the rate of biological invasions and minimize their environmental impacts. These benefits will accrue over time as global coverage and information on alien species increases.
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In a world where invasive alien species (IAS) are recognised as one of the major threats to biodiversity, leading scientists from five continents have come together to propose the concept of developing an international association for open knowledge and open data on IAS—termed " INVASIVESNET ". This new association will facilitate greater understanding and improved management of invasive alien species (IAS) and biological invasions globally, by developing a sustainable network of networks for effective knowledge exchange. In addition to their inclusion in the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the increasing ecological, social, cultural and economic impacts associated with IAS have driven the development of multiple legal instruments and policies. This increases the need for greater coordination , cooperation , and information exchange among scientists, management, the community of practice and the public. INVASIVESNET will be formed by linking new and existing networks of interested stakeholders including international and national expert working groups and initiatives, individual scientists, database managers, thematic open access journals, environmental agencies, practitioners, managers, industry, non-government organisations, citizens and educational bodies. The association will develop technical tools and cyberinfrastructure for the collection, management and dissemination of data and information on IAS; create an effective communication platform for global stakeholders; and promote coordination and collaboration through international meetings, workshops, education, training and outreach. To date, the sustainability of many strategic national and international initiatives on IAS have unfortunately been hampered by time-limited grants or funding cycles. Recognising that IAS initiatives need to be globally coordinated and ongoing , we aim to develop a sustainable knowledge sharing association to connect the outputs of IAS research and to inform the consequential management and societal challenges arising from IAS introductions. INVASIVESNET will provide a dynamic and enduring network of networks to ensure the continuity of connections among the IAS community of practice, science and management.
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A fundamental constituent of a biodiversity observation network is the technological infrastructure that underpins it. The European Biodiversity Network project (EU BON) has been working with and improving upon pre-existing tools for data mobilization, sharing and description. This paper provides conceptual and practical advice for the use of these tools. We review tools for managing metadata, occurrence data, and ecological data and give detailed description of these tools, their capabilities and limitations. This is followed by recommendations on their deployment and possible future enhancements. This is done from the perspective of the needs of the biodiversity observation community with a view to the development of a unified user interface to these data – the European Biodiversity Portal (EBP). We described the steps taken to develop, adapt, deploy and test these tools. This document also gives an overview of the objectives that still need to be achieved and challenges to be addressed for the remainder of the project.
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The meticulous revision by taxonomic experts of established alien species in the Mediterranean resulted in a major revision of the list proposed by Galil et al. (2016), with 72 species to be excluded (35 species categorised as non-established and 37 as not true aliens), and 71 species added to the list. Consequently, by year 2016 the total number of established alien species in the Mediterranean reached 610, which is a 20% increase over the preceding four years. If we also consider casual species (227 species), the total number of alien species in the Mediterranean is 837. This is attributed to: new findings, change in establishment status of species previously known on the basis of few and scattered records, and results of phylogenetic studies in some cosmopolitan species. However, the true number of alien species reported here is considered to be an underestimation, as it does not include phytoplanktonic organisms, Foraminifera, cryptogenic and species known on the basis of questionable records that might turn out to be true aliens. EASIN and INVASIVESNET can play a major role in the future revision/update of the present list, which currently serves for assessing indicators that are necessary for policy, and for management of alien species in the Mediterranean Sea. An increasing trend in new arrivals since 1950, which culminated in the 2001–2010 period, appeared to decline after 2010. Whether this negative trend is an indication of improvement, or is an artefact, remains to be seen. The current list provides a reliable updated database from which to continue monitoring the arrival and spread of invasive species in the Mediterranean, as well as to provide counsel to governmental agencies with respect to management and control. Current geographical, taxonomical and impact data gaps can be reduced only by instituting harmonised standards and methodologies for monitoring alien populations in all countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
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Preventing the arrival of invasive alien species (IAS) is a major priority in managing biological invasions. However, information on introduction pathways is currently scattered across many databases that often use different categorisations to describe similar pathways. This hampers the identification and prioritisation of pathways in order to meet the main targets of recent environmental policies. 2. Therefore, we integrate pathway information from two major IAS databases, IUCN's Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) and the DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway, applying the new standard categorisation scheme recently adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We describe the process of mapping pathways from the individual databases to the CBD scheme and provide, for the first time, detailed descriptions of the standard pathway categories. The combined dataset includes pathway information for 8323 species across major taxonomic groups (plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, algae, fungi, other) and environments (terrestrial, freshwater, marine). 3. We analyse the data for major patterns in the introduction pathways, highlighting that the specific research question and context determines whether the combined or an individual dataset is the better information source for such analyses. While the combined dataset provides an improved basis for direction-setting in invasion management policies on the global level, individual datasets often better reflect regional idiosyncrasies. The combined dataset should thus be considered in addition to, rather than replacing, existing individual datasets. 4. Pathway patterns derived from the combined and individual datasets show that the intentional pathways ‘Escape’ and ‘Release’ are most important for plants and vertebrates, while for invertebrates, algae, fungi and micro-organisms unintentional transport pathways prevail. Differences in pathway proportions among marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments are much less pronounced. The results also show that IAS with highest impacts in Europe are on average associated with a greater number of pathways than other alien species and are more frequently introduced both intentionally and unintentionally. 5. Synthesis and applications. Linking databases on invasive alien species by harmonising and consolidating their pathway information is essential to turn dispersed data into useful knowledge. The standard pathway categorisation scheme recently adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity may be crucial to facilitate this process. Our study demonstrates the value of integrating major invasion databases to help managers and policymakers reach robust conclusions about patterns in introduction pathways and thus aid effective prevention and prioritisation in invasion management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Reducing rates of biodiversity loss and achieving environmental goals requires an understanding of what is threatening biodiversity, where and how fast the threats are changing in type and intensity, and appropriate actions needed to avert them. One might expect that the Information Age – typified by a deluge of data resulting from massive and widespread collection, digitization and dissemination of information – would have revolutionized our understanding of global threats to biodiversity. We examine the extent to which this is true, identify major data gaps for understanding threats to biodiversity, and suggest mechanisms for closing them. These recommendations include innovative partnerships with data providers of all kinds, ensuring relevant data sources are openly available and accessible, and a considerable investment of funding into scalable data gathering initiatives.