Published on 30 June 2017

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. The authors of the publication 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:

  • Create data management plans
  • Increase interoperability of information sources
  • Document data through metadata
  • Format data using existing standards
  • Adopt controlled vocabularies
  • Increase data availability
  • Ensure long-term data preservation

Furthermore, the authors identified four properties specific and integral to alien species data:

  • Species status
  • Introduction pathway
  • Degree of establishment
  • 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 core biodiversity data standards are improved by developing their relevance to alien species, it will allow the automation of common activities regarding data processing in support of environmental policy. Furthermore, the authors 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.

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(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)