Applying the Convention on Biological Diversity Pathway Classification to alien species in Europe
The number of alien species arriving within new regions has increased at unprecedented rates. Managing the pathways through which alien species arrive and spread is important to reduce the threat of biological invasions. Harmonising information on pathways across individual sectors and user groups is therefore critical to underpin policy and action. The European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) has been developed to easily facilitate open access to data of alien species in Europe. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Pathway Classification framework has become a global standard for the classification of pathways. We followed a structured approach to assign pathway information within EASIN for a subset of alien species in Europe, which covered 4169 species, spanning taxonomic groups and environments. We document constraints and challenges associated with implementing the CBD Pathway Classification framework and propose potential amendments to increase clarity. This study is unique in the scope of taxonomic coverage and also in the inclusion of primary (independent introductions to Europe) and secondary (means of dispersal for species expansion within Europe, after their initial introduction) modes of introduction. In addition, we summarise the patterns of introduction pathways within this subset of alien species within the context of Europe. Based on the analyses, we confirm that the CBD Pathway Classification framework offers a robust, hierarchical system suitable for the classification of alien species introduction and spread across a wide range of taxonomic groups and environments. However, simple modifications could improve interpretation of the pathway categories ensuring consistent application across databases and information systems at local, national, regional, continental and global scales. Improving consistency would also help in the development of pathway action plans, as required by EU legislation.
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