ALIEN CHALLENGE was a research network funded by the COST programme

The Action brought together experts from Europe and across the world to work collaboratively to compile and harmonise information about alien species within Europe. They will continue to work together, as well as with other researchers and policy makers, to improve knowledge and decision making in relation to alien species.



The Action's dissemination video has been published .... click on the picture to view the video on Youtube...


Continuing impact of COST Action TD1209


Although the Action is now closed, its contribution to scientific research continues. Recent publications in which the Action is acknowledged include...

Milenković, Ivan, et al. (2018) Isolation and Pathogenicity of Phytophthora Species from Poplar Plantations in Serbia. Forests, 9(6):330. doi:10.3390/f9060330

Galanidi, M., Zenetos, A., Bacher, S. (2018) Assessing the socio-economic impacts of priority marine invasive fishes in the Mediterranean with the newly proposed SEICAT methodology. Mediterranean Marine Science [Online], Volume 19 Number 1.        

Ozaslan, C., Farooq, S., Onen, H., Ozcan, S., Bukun, B. & Gunal, H. (2017) Germination Biology of Two Invasive Physalis Species and Implications for Their Management in Arid and Semi-arid Regions. Scientific Reports volume 7, Article number: 16960.   doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17169-5                 

Verloove, F., Marrero Rodríguez, A., Salas-Pascual, M., Guiggi, A. (2017) New Records of Cactaceae from Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain). Haseltonia Number 23 :79-91.



SEICAT  - A new system for assessing the social and economic impacts of invasive non-native species: new paper published

 “a novel standardised method for classifying alien taxa in terms of the magnitude of their impacts on human well-being, based on the capability approach from welfare economics. The core characteristic of this approach is that it uses changes in peoples' activities as a common metric for evaluating impacts on well-being.”   Bacher S, Blackburn TM, Essl F, et al. Socio-economic impact classification of alien taxa (SEICAT). Methods Ecol Evol. 2017;00:110.

The ranking system has been developed by an international team of scientists and the paper is an output of the COST Action TD1209 ALIEN Challenge.



New COST Action paper just published:

A new perspective paper aimed at improving the reliability of risk assessments underpinning invasive species policies was just published in the journal Biological Invasions. The article is based upon work from the COST Action TD1209 in synergy with the COST Action ES1304 Parrotnet - European network on invasive parakeets: Understanding invasion dynamics and risks to agriculture and society,, both supported by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology.

Vanderhoeven et al. 2017. Beyond protocols: improving the reliability of expert-based risk analysis underpinning invasive species policies. Biol Invasions. DOI 10.1007/s10530-017-1434-0

The article if freely available here:

COST ACTION TD1209 - Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) -  CALL CLOSED

We are unable to accept any further applications for STSMs as we have now fully allocated our budget.



Impacts of Biological invasions on ecosystem services

The Book on Impacts of Biological invasions on ecosystem services is now published on line, with the support of the EU­ funded COST Action ALIEN Challenge.


COST ACTION TD1209 - Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) - CALL CLOSED

All of this Action's current fund for STSMs has now been allocated.

We will re-open the call if any additional funding becomes available.

COST ACTION TD1209 - Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) - CALL NOW OPEN

Applications for STSMs to take place between the period 25 August 2016 to 25 March 2017 can now be submitted.

For further information please visit our STSM pages.

Commission adopts first EU list of invasive alien species, an important step towards halting biodiversity loss 
Brussels, 13 July 2016 

Today the European Commission took an important step towards halting biodiversity loss, adopting a list of invasive alien species that require action across the EU. The list contains 37 species that cause damage on a scale that justifies dedicated measures across the Union. 

Here the link to the official journal in all EU languages

More info here:

A vision for global monitoring of biological invasions: new paper published

Managing biological invasions relies on good global coverage of species distributions. Accurate information on alien species distributions, obtained from international policy and cross-border co-operation, is required to evaluate trans-boundary and trading partnership risks. The architecture for tracking biological invasions is provided by a minimum information set of Essential Variables, global collaboration on data sharing and infrastructure, and strategic contributions by countries. To this purpose, three Essential Variables for Invasion Monitoring are identified: alien species occurrence, species alien status and alien species impact. A paper just published within a GEO BON initiative (joined also by ALIEN Challenge) outlines how delivery of this minimum information set by joint, complementary contributions from countries and global community initiatives, is possible.

The paper is available here:

INVASIVESNET towards an International Association for Open Knowledge on Invasive Alien Species

In a world where invasive alien species (IAS) are recognised as one of the major threats to biodiversity, leading scientists from five continents have come together to propose the concept of developing an international association for open knowledge and open data on IAS—termed “INVASIVESNET”.

You can read more in the article supported by COST Action TD1209 Alien Challenge, published in a new issue of the journal Management of Biological Invasions

Progresses on the understanding and prioritization of IAS pathways

At the next SBSTTA 20, the technical meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an update on the progresses on the understanding and prioritization of pathways of introduction of invasive species will be submitted. 

The note has been presented by the ISSG of the IUCN/SSC as an information document, and is already available among the meeting documents at

The role of the ALIEN Challenge Action is explicitly mentioned in the document.

Enhancing understanding of invasive alien pathogens

As a key output of a recent workshop held at CEH (Wallingford, UK) within the COST Action TD1209 ALIEN Challenge, with the objective to advance understanding of alien pathogens threatening wildlife within natural and semi-natural systems, a short note was published on 18 February 2016 in Nature

Further details about the workshop can be found here:

Call for Applications for Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM)  - NOW CLOSED

Call for Applications for Short Term Scientific for missions occurring between 1 January 2016 & 31 March 2017 within the COST Action ALIEN Challenge (all STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the dates specified above). 
Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) will facilitate knowledge exchange and acquisition, and help to implement the COST Action ALIEN Challenge's objectives by fostering collaboration, technology transfer and by tackling various research needs.

  • Grants of up to €2500 are available.
  • Deadline for applications to be submitted: a minimum of 2 months before the desired start date of the STSM. 
  • Notification of application outcome: within one month of the application being submitted. 

For more information, please refer to the attached document and visit our website.

New marine species discovered within the ALIEN Challenge training school in Rhodes

A new species of polychaetes - a group of annelid worms generally living in marine ecosystems - has just been discovered. The discovery is one of the amazing, yet unexpected, results of the COST Action ALIEN Challenge TD1209. In fact the new species, Myrianida rodosensis, was found by Dr. Çinar during  the training school on marine surveys organized by this EU funded project in Rhodes in 2014. More details are available in the relevant publication:

April 21, 2015 - Ad hoc scientific workshop to complete selected invasive alien species risk assessments – February 2015

The report on "Organisation and running of a scientific workshop to complete selected invasive alien species (IAS) risk assessments" made by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the preparatory studies for the implementation of the EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species, has been published on the EC website:

This workshop has completed risk assessments that were nearly compliant with the minimum standards published in October 2014 (see the previous report "Invasive alien species – framework for the identification of invasive alien species of EU concern" available here: ).

While this workshop provided scientific support to the development of the list of IAS of Union concern, the results presented in its report cannot be in any way regarded as the list that the Commission will be proposing, nor to represent the opinion of the Commission.

SMARTER Training School on Controlling Common Ragweed by Vegetation Management – summer 2015

Take the opportunity to learn how to investigate the efficacy of vegetation management to control common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). The Training School takes place 27 Jul – 1 Aug 2015 in Vienna, Austria, and Munich/Freising, Germany. You will be trained by skilled researchers and visit several ongoing experiments in the middle of the ragweed season.

Objectives: The Training School is aimed at developing skills on designing, performing, analysing and evaluating mowing/cutting experiments, with and without competition, for the control of common ragweed. Learn how to measure and analyse the most relevant response variables for control efficacy, and how to quickly evaluate field experiments with respect to efficacy in harming spontaneous ragweed populations.

Participants: The Training School is targeting young scientists and professionals involved in ragweed control. Maximum number of participants: 10.

Grants: COST SMARTER offers grants to eligible participants.

Applications are accepted until 26 April 2016.  

Further information in:


Black Listing Invasive Species for Monitoring and Reporting: GEO BON Workshop and Stakeholder Meeting

The COST action ALIEN Challenge was invited to Leipzig, Germany, on 3-5 March 2015, to participate to the "Black Listing Invasive Species for Monitoring and Reporting: GEO BON Workshop and Stakeholder Meeting". The workshop included three sessions, one on the further development of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) in relation to monitoring invasion as a key driver of biodiversity loss, one focusing on the practicalities for developing and implementing a IUCN process and system for categorizing and monitoring the impact of invasive alien species, and finally one to involve the key stakeholders and potential users of the above mentioned system and discuss key requirements, weakness and strengths of the project. In total, 22 scientists and representatives from 14 countries came together with international policy experts from the European Commission,  the IUCN, CABI, Island Conservation,  and the CBD. A number of initiatives carried out within the COST action ALIEN Challenge were explicitly presented and discussed during the workshop, including the opportunities for potential synergies and collaboration on the ongoing activities. A special emphasis was given to the activities carried out within WG3.
Further information on the GEO BON project and follow up can be found here:


March 4, 2015 - New call for STSM Applications

Call now open for applications for Short Term Scientific Missions (exchange visits) occurring between 15 June 2015 & 15 April 2016.

Deadline for applications: 31 March 2015

Notification of application outcome: 7 May 2015

More information about STSMs can be found on the following page: STSM

NEOBIOTA 2014, the 8th International Conference on Biological Invasions: From Understanding to Action, 03-08 November, 2014, Antalya, Turkey

The Proceedings of 2014 NEOBIOTA Conference on Biological Invasions are available here:

Conference on Benefits and Risks of Exotic Biological Control Agents open conference of a Working Group of IOBC-WPRS 13-15 May 2015 - Bornholm, Denmark

Booking and abstract submission is open for the above meeting. The meeting is targeted at scientists and professionals working with benefits and risks of exotic biological control agents. Please book and submit your abstract (maximum 250 words) before 31 January 2015 by visiting

Additionally we are short of chairs for sessions 2 and 6 below. Please let me know if you might be interested in chairing one of these sessions.

We would like to encourage student and early career researcher involvement in the meeting. IOBC-WPRS have kindly made some funds available to partly cover attendance costs up to 250 Euros for a limited number of PhD students and early career researchers. Please see for an application form (deadline 31 January).

Additionally, IOBC members benefit from a 120 Euro discount on meeting attendance.

Planned sessions:
1. Biocontrol & Society
2. Evolution of biocontrol species
3. Regulations & Risk Assessment
4. Characteristics of successful exotic biocontrol agents
5. Developments in Harmonia axyridis research
6. Exotic parasitoids
7. Interactions between biocontrol and non-target species
8. Citizen science & public engagement
9. Student-led session (theme to be confirmed)
10. Market place/Poster session

A reminder that Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea (a 25 minute flight from Copenhagen) and is a splendid and interesting location.

March 2-4, 2015 - Training School - MODELS IN INVASION ECOLOGY: CHALLENGES AND APPLICATIONS (Porto, Portugal)

Sponsored by: COST Action TD1209 – Alien Challenge & Biodiv Doctoral Programme – CIBIO/InBIO (

The intended audience for this school is students or researchers at early stage of their career. They are expected to have limited confidence with programming and statistics, and be interested in getting a broader view of modelling tools. This course is also potentially interesting for those with a stronger background in modelling who want to get acquainted with modelling in R (no previous knowledge of R is required). Further information about the school and details of how to apply can be found here.

The deadline for applications is 20th December 2014.

Oct. 26, 2014 - Framework for the identification of invasive alien species of EU concern

The report "Invasive alien species – framework for the identification of invasive alien species of EU concern" has been published on the EC website

This study has reviewed existing risk assessment methodologies, developed minimum standards and assessed the compliance of available risk assessments with those minimum standards. While this study provides scientific support to the development of the list of IAS of Union concern of the new IAS Regulation, the results presented in the study report cannot be in any way regarded as the list that the Commission will be proposing, nor to represent the opinion of the Commission.

For further information on the EU policy developments on IAS please visit the official webpage of the Commission

Sep. 29, 2014 - European Council adopts rules on invasive alien species

The Council today adopted the "Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species" (see updated text here).

For additional information, you can find an article on the issue here and the official press release of the European Council on the following link

Aug. 31, 2014 - Questionnaire on IAS databases

As part of the EU project (Alien challenge - COST TD1209) we want to identify the user data requirements in the field of biological invasions. Therefore we are asking for your help. We have prepared a very short questionnaire, consisting of 7 slides, which will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. In this questionnaire we want to identify which online resources for alien species you are using and what you would wish to have. The questionnaire is prepared in several languages to make it more widely available to general users, NGOs, policy makers, managers etc. To evaluate all the potential users we need responses from as many different people as possible. So please complete the questionnaire yourself and forward this message to your collaborators.

The questionnaire is available at

The aim of our activity is to assess how individual databases are used, as well as identifying their omissions or weak points and where the databases should evolve to be user friendly.

In case of any questions do not hesitate to contact us at

Jun. 23, 2014 - ALIEN Challenge at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen

On 23 June 2014, the Action leader Dr. Helen Roy of CEH has been invited to attend the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen to showcase the ALIEN Challenge current Action and share experience. The focus of her presentation will be on the importance of multidisciplinary science and in particular with respect to invasive alien species. COST promotes transdisciplinary research networks on a European scale and will be attending ESOF for the remainder of the week for those interested in visiting the stand.


May 28, 2014 - New call for proposals for STSMs

Scientists interested in an applying for an STSM should submit a proposal by e-mail to Dr. Frances Lucy ( and Dr. Elena Tricarico ( before July 7th 2014.

More information about STSMs can be found here

Evaluation outcome - within one month after the deadline for the submission of proposals.

Jan. 16, 2014 - Call for proposals for short STSMs that can be completed by 18th April 2014

There are still a few STSM grants available within the first year of this Action, for researchers that will be able to start and complete their proposed STSM by 18th April 2014.

For further information see here

Scientists interested in applying should urgently submit a proposal by e‐mail to Dr. Frances Lucy ( and Dr. Elena Tricarico (

Sept. 9, 2013 - New EU legislation to protect biodiversity against IAS

The European Commission today proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the rapidly growing threat from invasive species.

The proposal centres round a list of invasive alien species of Union concern, which will be drawn up with the Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence. Selected species will be banned from the EU, meaning it will not be possible to import, buy, use, release or sell them. Special measures will be taken to deal with issues arising for traders, breeders or pet owners in the transitional period.

The proposed Regulation will now be examined by the Council and the Parliament. Member States will be fully involved in compiling the list and can propose candidates for listing. The regime will be coupled with an information support mechanism: the European Alien Species Information Network ( ).

The Regulation on the prevention and management of invasive alien species draws on the EU's Resource Efficiency Roadmap and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

For more information:

Conference: Invasive Alien Species: the Urban Dimension

The IUCN European Union Representative Office and the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group are organizing a conference to discuss the challenges related to invasive alien species in Europe’s urban areas. The event is to take place at IUCN Headquarters in Switzerland on 5 September 2013.  

More information here: