New global invasive species report

IPBES just published a new report on invasive species assessment (media release - report). In it, they estimate that invasive species are a contributing factor in 60% of species extinctions worldwide with being the sole driver in about 16% of those extinctions. On islands, 90% of extinctions can be contributed mainly to invasive species. Yikes! Invasive vertebrates seem to have the most devastating impacts in this regard. I think this demonstrates again the value in documenting “feral” instances of introduced species.

According to the report, there are over 37,000 alien species recorded worldwide, with over 3,500 being invasive, so that’s about a 1 in 10 ratio for alien species turning invasive. They also provide some helpful definitions on page 3 of the report. I know this has come up in discussions before so here’s what they are operating with:

Native species - A species (animal, plant or other organism) within its natural range including shifting its range, without human involvement.

Alien species - A species whose presence in a region is attributable to human activities that have enabled it to overcome its barriers that define its natural range.

Established alien species - A subset of alien species that have produced a viable, self-sustaining population and may have spread.

Invasive alien species - A subset of established alien species that spread and have a negative impact on biodiversity, local ecosystems and species. Many invasive alien species also have impacts on nature’s contributions to people (embodying different concepts, such as ecosystem goods and services and nature’s gifts) and good quality of life.

They also comment on strategies to combat alien invasions. Under C18, it specifically mentions citizen science as a surveillance strategy that can help with early detection and enable rapid intervention. This is where it ties in with iNaturalist. In fact, appendix III lists iNaturalist on top of the tools suggested for identification. I also found appendix II listing knowledge and data gaps interesting as well.

I know it’s a long report to read but it might be worth a look. Apparently it is the first report looking at this in such a global context. I’m curious what others are finding the most new or interesting about it. For example, I was surprised by some of their top contenders for invasives with negative impacts, such as lantana which always seemed like a fairly innocuous garden plant to me. I may have to rethink my “probably planted” attitude on that one.


unfortunately, lantana is one of the most widespread and impactful invasive plant species along the eastern Australian coast


I figured it must be invasive somewhere in the world but not in my immediate area.

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Lantana is a menace in India… You plant one plant in a forest and soon you have a lantana grove. It grows fast and spreads faster. Birds eat the fruit and pollinate it. Just terrible


Thanks for posting. I was just about to share it too!

key infographic


Thanks for the link and the excerpt with their definitions. I notice one “group” that is not explicitly categorized in the excerpt, and it’s something we’ve had extensive discussion about on this Forum: “Invasive Native Species”. I won’t belabor the point, but they are a “thing”!

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Given the definition of ‘biological invasion’ used (see infographics above) it is probably out of their scope.

That is why horticulture invented New Gold
Supposedly garden bling but not invasive.
Not convinced.

5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Definitional discussion: “Native/non-native” related to “invasive” plant species

@cthawley you have a background in invasive species, no? Curious what you thought was interesting/new from the IPBES report so far.

Wish I had time to actually read it! Beginning of the semester here so I am underwater with that…

I skimmed it, and I do like the infographic that you posted. I think it seems like a very good, up to date summary, though not really new scholarship/insights. But of course it isn’t intended to be that - it’s more of an executive summary/state of the field in language for non-ecologists. I’m not super familiar with IPBES but it seems like the key to how good/useful something like this is is in how it gets used - do policymakers use it to improve policy? So I’m hopeful there! It seems clear and accessible.

One thing that did stick out to me was the focus on indigenous peoples and how their ways of lives are impacted by invasives. I haven’t seen that given as much attention before.

And one stat that really jumped out at me was the “88%: success rate of eradication programmes (1,550) conducted on 998 islands” People are getting really good at that! I know it doesn’t really apply to most invasives/areas affected, but still quite encouraging.


Cool, I hadn’t caught that (also skimmed it!). The benefits of a more closed system on islands! And presumably that number includes a lot of pig/rat/goat eradication efforts where the interventions have been more thoroughly tested, resourced, supported by groups like Island Conservation with a dedicated mission, etc. Thanks for your thoughts!

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