Managing alien bird species: Time to move beyond “100 of the worst” lists?
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Alien species can cause severe impacts in their introduced ranges and management is challenging due to the large number of such species and the diverse nature and context of their impacts. Lists of the most harmful species, like the “100 of the World’s Worst” list collated by the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or the “100 of the Worst” invaders in Europe collated by the Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories in Europe (DAISIE) project, raise awareness about these impacts among the public, and can guide management decisions. Such lists are mainly based on expert opinion, but in recent years a more objective comparison of impacts has become possible, even between highly diverse taxa. In this study, we use a semi-quantitative generic impact scoring system to assess impacts of the three birds listed among the “100 of the World’s Worst” IUCN list (IUCN100) and the four birds on the list of “100 of the Worst” European invaders by DAISIE (DAISIE100) and to compare their impacts with those of other alien birds not present on the respective lists. We found that generally, both lists include some of the species with the highest impacts in the respective regions (global or Europe), and these species therefore deserve the dubious honour of being listed among the “worst”. However, there are broad overlaps between some species with regards to the impact mechanisms and the related issues of invasions, especially those of the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis and Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer on the IUCN100, are very similar which might not warrant listing both species. To make the selection of species on such lists more transparent we suggest moving beyond lists based on expert opinion to a more transparent and defendable system for listing alien species based on published records of their impacts and related mechanisms.