More than “100 worst” alien species in Europe
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‘‘One hundred worst’’ lists of alien species of the greatest concern proved useful for raising awareness of the risks and impacts of biological invasions amongst the general public, politicians and stakeholders. All lists so far have been based on expert opinion and primarily aimed at representativeness of the taxonomic and habitat diversity rather than at quantifying the harm the alien species cause. We used the generic impact scoring system (GISS) to rank 486 alien species established in Europe from a wide range of taxonomic groups to identify those with the highest environmental and socioeconomic impact. GISS assigns 12 categories of impact, each quantified on a scale from 0 (no impact detectable) to 5 (the highest impact possible). We ranked species by their total sum of scores and by the number of the highest impact scores. We also compared the listing based on GISS with other expert-based lists of the ‘‘worst’’ invaders. We propose a list of 149 alien species, comprising 54 plants, 49 invertebrates, 40 vertebrates and 6 fungi. Among the highest ranking species are one bird (Branta canadensis), four mammals (Rattus norvegicus, Ondatra zibethicus, Cervus nippon, Muntiacus reevesi), one crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), one mite (Varroa destructor), and four plants (Acacia dealbata, Lantana camara, Pueraria lobata, Eichhornia crassipes). In contrast to other existing expert-based ‘‘worst’’ lists, the GISS-based list given here highlights some alien species with high impacts that are not represented on any other list. The GISS provides an objective and transparent method to aid prioritization of alien species for management according to their impacts, applicable across taxa and habitats. Our ranking can also be used for justifying inclusion on lists such as the alien species of Union concern of the European Commission, and to fulfill Aichi target 9.