New tool to tackle biological invasions

A Monash researcher has played a key role in developing the world’s first register designed to collate information about invasive species as part of an international effort to prevent biological invasions.

The Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species (GRIIS) is the first open access, evidence-based information platform for invasive species that negatively affect biodiversity and ecosystems. The Register is presented in the publication Scientific Data, published this week.

“Cross-border trade and transport is the principal driver of new species introductions, and knowing which species are where is critical to evaluating risk to biodiversity and ecosystems,” said senior author Professor Melodie McGeoch from the Monash School of Biological Sciences.

“The new Register is a major step forward in the delivery of information needed to effectively deal with the problem of biological invasions,” she said.

Researchers, intergovernmental partnerships and expert country editors have collaborated to deliver a resource and tool that countries can use to plan and to meet their obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The tool can also be used to assess how well the international community is dealing with this major threat to the environment. Common Myna

A Common myna (Acridotheres tristis) – native to central and southern Asia, introduced widely across the world. Aggressively outcompetes native species. Image: S L Chown, Monash University.

GRIIS provides country checklists with evidence on which species are naturalised and which species are having an impact. Some of the key challenges that had to be overcome were developing a system that is evidence-based, and that can absorb information from a very wide range of sources, languages and formats. GRIIS will now be updated regularly, enabling repeat assessments, building knowledge and helping countries to manage information on invasive alien species to reduce prevent their introduction and reduce their impact.

“A highlight of this initiative is the involvement of networks of country editors who are the custodians of their country’s checklists,” said first author Shyama Pagad of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Invasive Species Specialist GroupSSC ISSG.

Professor McGeoch said GRIIS has global coverage, including the European Overseas Territories and Regions and currently includes data on 198 countries.

“GRIIS provides significant support for countries to identify and prioritise invasive alien species, and establishes national and global baselines,” she said.

“This will enable a global system for sustainable monitoring of trends in biological invasions that affect the environment to improve our success in dealing with the problem.”

The development of GRIIS (the tool) is part of the wider collaboration convened by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through the Global Invasive Alien Species Information Partnership (GIASIP), with key partners being the IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 

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