Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 2815–2824 | Cite as

The role of regulatory decision-making on non-indigenous species introductions

  • Ronit Justo-HananiEmail author
  • Tamar Dayan
  • Alon Tal
Original Paper


Introduction is a critical stage in vertebrates’ invasion process; once imported, they have a high probability of establishment and spread. While there is a consensus that trade is a primary conduit for non-indigenous species (NIS) introductions, and a key locus for preventive regulation, few policies have been evaluated by scientists for effectiveness. A science-based quantitative assessment of regulatory performance could significantly decrease invasion risk. We carried out a quantitative analysis of data on importation permits of terrestrial vertebrates and the reporting system, using the Israeli regulatory system as a model. This regulatory system is based on long-established wildlife protection legislation, now being used to control NIS vertebrates, much as is the case in many other countries. Ecological risk assessment for NIS was sometimes carried out, but it is not mandatory within the regulatory process, and no legally-binding criteria for assessment exist. We found a significant decrease in number of permits issued over the years, but this decrease does not reflect perception of ecological risk. We found permit quotas of much wider volumes than those actually used, indicating that trade volumes are dictated by retailers rather than by regulators. Actual imports are frequently not reported, hindering efforts to assess propagule pressure and to monitor and analyze effects of introductions. We conclude that the regulatory system should be more science-based, that the import database should be formulated to allow future ecological research and mitigation, and that legally-binding ecological risk assessment would contribute significantly to the strength of NIS regulation.


Nonindigenous species Regulatory performance Science-based decision-making Terrestrial vertebrates Import permits system 



We thank S. Nemtzov from INPA Science Division for assisting us in obtaining data from the INPA permit database. We thank D. Simberloff for valuable comments on an earlier version of this manuscript and three anonymous reviewers for their numerous and insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and The Buchmann Faculty of LawTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevSede-BoqerIsrael

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