A research team from GBIF's partners in the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) developed a simple methodology for drawing up a 'watch list' that countries can use to identify those alien species most likely to pose a substantial threat of invasion.
The team, led by Katelyn Faulkner, drew up a watch list for South Africa using three predictors of invasion success: history of invasion, environmental suitability and propagule pressure.
For the study, the researchers downloaded more than 20 million occurrence records from GBIF.org for 884 species in the Global Invasive Species Database. They used these records to assess how many species were likely to establish themselves successfully in South Africa, based on the similarity between the environmental conditions in South Africa and those in regions where the species have been observed.
Trade and tourism data were also used to assess the likelihood of alien species arriving in South Africa from regions where they currently occur. From this, the researchers identified 400 species as potential invaders for South Africa. The authors argue that this technique could be used in any region as an initial assessment of key threats, and could be an important step in developing biosecurity schemes for resource-poor regions.