Experts outline strategy for improving alien species information

GBIF task group recommendations support ‘Honolulu Challenge’ on action to reduce the impacts of invasive species on biodiversity.

An expert task group has recommended steps for ensuring that GBIF provides sustainable, reliable, timely and accessible data on alien and invasive species and contributes to long-term management of this key threat to biodiversity.

The final report from the task group on data fitness for use in research on alien and invasive species outlines a strategy involving data publishers, GBIF Participant nodes, the GBIF Secretariat and partners.

The report comes as international partners that include GBIF have launched the ‘Honolulu Challenge’ calling for urgent action on invasive species. Experts from governments and NGOs developed the initiative during the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i.

Among the steps urged by the Honolulu Challenge partners is to enable enhanced knowledge on invasive alien species, their impacts and pathways of invasion, through investment in data collection, standardization, sharing and open access.

The GBIF task group makes five priority recommendations aimed at improving the usefulness of data on alien and invasive species available to users of among research and policy communities.

  • Increase capacity of GBIF to act as an essential hub for open-access information on alien and invasive species

  • Work through GBIF’s network of data publishers and Participant nodes to improve the coverage and timeliness of data on alien species, including engagement to publish occurrence data as soon as possible following observation

  • Improve the functionality and visibility of information on invasive and alien species on

  • Support the enhancement, development and adoption of relevant data standards to support sharing of richer information relevant to this threat

  • Focus on improving data and information essential to research in this field, including extent and currency of occurrence data, geographic orgin, native and non-native ranges at species and record levels, information on mechanism of introduction, and data quality enhancements

“We warmly welcome the Honolulu Challenge and its emphasis on the need to invest in open-access data collection, sharing and standardization,” said Donald Hobern, GBIF Executive Secretary. “We are committed through our global network and partnerships to provide the tools and infrastructure to enable the widest possible mobilization of data on the occurrence and spread of invasive alien species, including through citizen science initiatives. Free access to these data is critical to improving knowledge and informing effective action.”

The GBIF network hopes to address the task group recommendations as part its work programme in the coming years and will offer a more detailed response at a later date.