Data fitness for use in research on alien and invasive species


GBIF provides a range of essential information services for alien and invasive species (A&IS) researchers, including but not limited to taxonomic and occurrence information. The Task Group on Data Fitness for Use: Alien and Invasive Species Task here captures the best available experiences, documents existing limitations in GBIF services and suggests improvements in the functionality of for A&IS researchers' domain-specific needs.

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The discovery, access and appropriate use of primary biodiversity data are critical for alien and invasive species (A&IS) research at continental, regional, country and subnational scales. Sustainable, reliable, timely, and accessible data on A&IS is essential to the long-term management of this key threat to biodiversity, including the ability of countries to meet the Honolulu Challenge and to achieve Aichi Target 9 of the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. GBIF provides a range of essential information services for A&IS researchers, including but not limited to taxonomic and occurrence information.

After broad consultation with the research and A&IS community, a suite of recommendations were identified under five broad topic areas:

  1. Strategic approaches
  2. Improving existing data
  3. Expanding information content
  4. Functionality
  5. Communication and engagement

Several recommendations are relevant for other data users, but the availability, quality and timeliness of these data are especially critical for A&IS because of the real-world consequences resulting from the negative impacts of biological invasions.

Alien species occurrence includes taxonomically verified species presence records or absence information at a locality with a geographic coordinate, or in a prescribed area, such as a management or geopolitical unit or site (Latombe et al. 2016). Alien species occurrence information is the single most important variable necessary to support research, monitoring and management of A&IS.


Melodie A. McGeoch (chair) Monash University, Australia

Quentin J. Groom Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium

Shyama Pagad IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, Australia

Varos Petrosyan A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution; Russian Academy of Science; deputy editor, Russian Journal of Biological Invasions

John Wilson SANBI: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Gregory Ruiz Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, U.S.A


McGeoch MA, Groom QJ, Pagad S, Petrosyan V, Ruiz G & Wilson J (2016) Data fitness for use in research on alien and invasive species. Copenhagen: GBIF Secretariat. Available online at: