Integrating expert knowledge at regional and national scales improves impact assessments of non-native species

Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Oliver L. Pescott, Olaf Booy, Kevin J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Knowledge of the impacts of invasive species is important for their management, prioritisation of control efforts and policy decisions. We investigated how British and Irish botanical experts assessed impacts at smaller scales in areas where they were familiar with the flora. Experts were asked to select the 10 plants that they considered were having the largest impacts in their areas. They also scored the local impacts of 10 plant species that had been previously scored to have the highest impacts at the scale of Great Britain. Impacts were scored using the modified classification scheme of the EICAT framework (Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa). A total of 782 species/score combinations were received, of which 123 were non-native plants in 86 recording areas. Impatiens glandulifera, Reynoutria japonica and Rhododendron ponticum were the three species considered to have the highest impacts across all regions. Four of the species included in the list of the 10 highest impact species in Great Britain were also in the top 10 of species reported in our study. Species in the higher impact categories had, on average, a wider distribution than species with impacts categorised at lower levels. The main habitat types affected were woodlands, followed by linear/boundary features and freshwater habitats. Thirty-nine native plant species were reported to be negatively affected. In comparison to the overall non-native flora of Britain and Ireland, the lifeform spectrum of the species reported was significantly different, with higher percentages of aquatic plants and trees, but a lower proportion of annuals. The study demonstrates the value of local knowledge and expertise in identifying invasive species with negative impacts on the environment. Local knowledge is useful to both confirm national assessments and to identify species and impacts on native species and habitats that may not have gained national attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-100
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


We are very grateful to all BSBI Vice-county recorders who contributed to our survey.We thank Romane Guernalec, who helped with the initial database administration and Tom Humphrey for creating the vice-county map


  • Alien plants
  • Biological recording
  • Europe
  • Habitat impacts
  • Impact
  • Local knowledge
  • Scoring


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