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Keywords:

  • Invasive species;
  • risk assessment;
  • theoretical ecology

Although estimates vary, there is a broad agreement that invasive species impose major costs on the U.S. economy, as well as posing risks to nonmarket environmental goods and services and to public health. The domestic effort to manage risks associated with invasive species is coordinated by the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), which is charged with developing a science-based process to evaluate risks associated with the introduction and spread of invasive species. Various international agreements have also elevated invasive species issues onto the international policy agenda. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement establishes rights and obligations to adhere to the discipline of scientific risk assessment to ensure that SPS measures are applied only to the extent required to protect human, animal, and plant health, and do not constitute arbitrary or unjustifiable technical barriers to trade. Currently, however, the field of risk assessment for invasive species is in its infancy. Therefore, there is a pressing need to formulate scientifically sound methods and approaches in this emerging field, while acknowledging that the demand for situation-specific empirical evidence is likely to persistently outstrip supply. To begin addressing this need, the Society for Risk Analysis Ecological Risk Assessment Specialty Group and the Ecological Society of America Theoretical Ecology Section convened a joint workshop to provide independent scientific input into the formulation of methods and processes for risk assessment of invasive species to ensure that the analytic processes used domestically and internationally will be firmly rooted in sound scientific principles.