Towards a global database of weed risk assessments: a test of transferability for the tropics
Worldwide spread and establishment of alien plant species continues to accelerate and damage ecological and agricultural systems. Early warning and prevention of high-risk introductions is the most cost-effective approach to minimise losses while maximising benefits, and the Australian Weed Risk Assessment (A-WRA) system has been the most well-developed and successful predictive scheme. However, any system would be limited if the results or scores were confined to the locality of assessment. We compiled A-WRA scores conducted in four tropical to sub-tropical regions and tested the accuracy of these scores for predicting naturalisations for a separate well-documented, equatorial, exotic flora where weed risk assessments have never been conducted. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves reflect high accuracies of predictions, comparable to those in other studies. No significant differences in accuracy were found between each regional subset and the compiled set of scores. Our results show that A-WRA scores assessed at one locality can be used for others of similar climate, increasing the utility of every species’ assessment. A global database of A-WRA scores would enable rapid local decision-making in border controls on imported plant species. A growing record of species assessments would also facilitate monitoring evolutionary and ecological aspects of invasive species.
KeywordsPlant naturalizations Weed risk assessment Biosecurity Prediction accuracy Tropical regions Information sharing
We thank C.K. Yeo for suggesting Receiver Operating Characteristic curves to be used in our analysis, and D.R. Gordon for providing information on risk assessment studies from Florida. We also thank N. Sodhi and P.K.L. Ng for their advice and suggestions. Two anonymous referees and the Associate Editor gave very helpful comments for improving the paper.
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