Biologist provides framework for national invasive species policy, implementation | 4/30/2019 | Staff
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A special issue of the journal Biological Invasions, co-edited by University of Rhode Island ecologist Laura Meyerson and University of Tennessee biologist Daniel Simberloff, provides a pathway to strengthening national policies and implementing strategies for addressing a growing threat to national security—invasive species.

The issue, published Jan. 17, is an output of the 2016-2018 National Invasive Species Council Management Plan. It reflects more than three years of work coordinated by the council's secretariat, with contributions from hundreds of experts.

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"This comprehensive special issue has been published at a critical time," said Meyerson, URI professor of natural resources science, who has studied invasive species for 25 years. "The United States is at greater risk for biological invasions and biosecurity breaches because the Trump administration has recently taken steps to weaken U.S. defenses against invasions."

The council's former executive director, Jamie K. Reaser, who oversaw the work and authored most of the papers, said: "Invasive species are a threat to national security, a threat that the U.S. and many other countries are not adequately responding to despite the warnings by experts. This collection of papers is thus a strategic plan for national defense—the defense of our economies, food and water supplies, ecological systems, even our lives."

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Meyerson noted that the already meager budget for the National Invasive Species Council was cut by half, and the multi-stakeholder Invasive Species Advisory Committee terminated, making it increasingly difficult for federal agencies to effectively collaborate or garner input on the issue from outside experts.

"It also hamstrings the ability of the federal government to work holistically with non-federal stakeholders to address invasive species," she said. "Invasive species cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars annually. We need a coordinated federal effort to strengthen our national biosecurity."

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The special issue of Biological Invasions features 12 complementary papers intended to inform the...
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