Global indicators of biological invasion: species numbers, biodiversity impact and policy responses


Melodie A. McGeoch, Centre for Invasion Biology and Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks, P.O. Box 216, Steenberg 7947, South Africa.


Aim  Invasive alien species (IAS) pose a significant threat to biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2010 Biodiversity Target, and the associated indicator for IAS, has stimulated globally coordinated efforts to quantify patterns in the extent of biological invasion, its impact on biodiversity and policy responses. Here, we report on the outcome of indicators of alien invasion at a global scale.

Location  Global.

Methods  We developed four indicators in a pressure-state-response framework, i.e. number of documented IAS (pressure), trends in the impact of IAS on biodiversity (state) and trends in international agreements and national policy adoption relevant to reducing IAS threats to biodiversity (response). These measures were considered best suited to providing globally representative, standardized and sustainable indicators by 2010.

Results  We show that the number of documented IAS is a significant underestimate, because its value is negatively affected by country development status and positively by research effort and information availability. The Red List Index demonstrates that IAS pressure is driving declines in species diversity, with the overall impact apparently increasing. The policy response trend has nonetheless been positive for the last several decades, although only half of countries that are signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have IAS-relevant national legislation. Although IAS pressure has apparently driven the policy response, this has clearly not been sufficient and/or adequately implemented to reduce biodiversity impact.

Main conclusions  For this indicator of threat to biodiversity, the 2010 Biodiversity Target has thus not been achieved. The results nonetheless provide clear direction for bridging the current divide between information available on IAS and that needed for policy and management for the prevention and control of IAS. It further highlights the need for measures to ensure that policy is effectively implemented, such that it translates into reduced IAS pressure and impact on biodiversity beyond 2010.