An assessment of the information content of South African alien species databases
CITATION: Faulkner, K. T., Spear, D., Robertson, M. P., Rouget, M. & Wilson, J. R. U. 2015. An assessment of the information content of South African alien species databases. Bothalia 45(1):1-11, http:// dx.doi.org/10.4102/abc. v45i1.1103.
The original publication is available at http://www.abcjournal.org/index.php/ABC/article/view/1103
National alien species databases indicate the state of a country’s biodiversity and provide useful data for research on invasion biology and the management of invasions. In South Africa there are several different published alien species databases, but these databases were created for different purposes and vary in completeness and information content. We assessed the information content of published South African alien species databases in the context of other such databases globally, and evaluated how the information content of South African databases varies across taxonomic groups. Although introduction pathway, date of introduction, region of origin and current broad-scale distribution data are available for most taxonomic groups assessed (60% – 90%), data on invasion status, introduction effort and introduction source are available for few taxonomic groups (5% – 18%). South African alien species databases have lower information content than the detailed databases available in other parts of the world and thus cannot be utilised to the same extent. We conclude with 11 recommendations for improving South African alien species databases. In particular, we highlight the data types that should be incorporated in future databases and argue that existing data should be collated in a single, standardised meta-database to facilitate cross-taxon comparisons, highlight gaps in effort, and inform managers and policy makers concerned with alien species.