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Identifying knowledge gaps in the research and management of invasive species in India


India, a megadiverse tropical country is grappling with the issue of biological invasions. As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, India is committed for managing its major biological invasions by 2020. Lack of prioritization of invasive species for control and management is the biggest hurdle for achieving this commitment. We reviewed 21 High Concern Invasive Species (HiCIS) across four major ecosystems (terrestrial mainland, island, freshwater, and marine) in India, utilizing the prioritization framework for understanding the existing knowledge and gaps. We reviewed the existing peer-reviewed and grey literature on HiCIS for information on their ecology, impacts, and management. Prioritization framework provided “priority scores” and “confidence scores” to each HiCIS, where priority score comprised of the species’ ecology and its management lacunae. Confidence score represented the reliability of the priority score. We found that invasions on terrestrial mainland ecosystem in India are the most studied invasions followed by freshwater, island, and marine ecosystem. Priority score of a given HiCIS was positively correlated with its impacts on biodiversity (R = 0.63), physical environment (R = 0.70), and ecosystem services (R = 0.60). This correlation supports scientific focus on deleterious species. The study also indicates policies and guidelines in place for management of invasions as a part of a larger scheme or Legal Act, resulting in their obscurity to the managers, and hindering management of HiCIS. This quantitative synthesis provides a model framework for countries struggling with channelizing management efforts to an overwhelmingly large number of invasive species.

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Present study is based on the workshop on ‘Management of Human – Wildlife negative interactions and Invasive species’, funded by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and organized by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). We thank Dr. V.B. Mathur (WII), Dr. G.S. Rawat (WII), Dr. B.C. Sinha (WII), Dr. Y.V. Jhala (WII), Dr. S. Sathyakumar (WII), Dr. K. Sankar, and Shri. S.S. Bist for facilitating the study and participants of the workshop for giving field inputs. We thank Dr. Hukum Singh (Forest Research Institute) and the anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ninad Avinash Mungi.

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Mungi, N.A., Kaushik, M., Mohanty, N.P. et al. Identifying knowledge gaps in the research and management of invasive species in India. Biologia 74, 623–629 (2019).

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  • Conservation policy
  • India
  • Invasive species
  • Prioritization