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Keywords:

  • Invasive species;
  • risk assessment;
  • theoretical ecology

A joint workshop was convened by the Society for Risk Analysis Ecological Risk Assessment Specialty Group and the Ecological Society of America Theoretical Ecology Section to provide independent scientific input into the formulation of methods and processes for risk assessment of invasive species. In breakout sessions on (1) the effects of invasive species on human health, (2) effects on plants and animals, (3) risk analysis issues and research needs related to entry and establishment of invasive species, and (4) risk analysis issues and research needs related to the spread and impacts of invasive species, workshop participants discussed an overall approach to risk assessment for invasive species. Workshop participants agreed on the need for empirical research on areas in which data are lacking, including potential invasive species, native species and habitats that may be impacted by invasive species, important biological processes and phenomena such as dispersal, and pathways of entry and spread for invasive species. Participants agreed that theoretical ecology can inform the process of risk assessment for invasive species by providing guidelines and conceptual models, and can contribute to improved decision making by providing a firm biological basis for risk assessments.