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    How to use the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD)


    Standard searches:
    GISD standard searches all return lists of invasive species. Each invasive species has a summary, synonyms and common names. Click on a species name to see its profile presented on 6 pages: Ecology, Distribution, Management information, Impacts, References/Links and Contacts. These pages are described in more detail in the next section (GISD profiles).

      Species name search
    The species name search will return any invasive species with a name, or part of a name, that matches your search term, whether it is an accepted scientific name, a synonym or a common name. You will be able to find your search term somewhere in each of the summaries that are returned. Hint: don't use short words like 'rat' or 'cat'. Your search will produce too many hits because these short words often appear within longer words; e.g. Ictalurus nebulosus marmoRATus.

      Country or location search
    The country or location search is the slowest search because it searches many thousands of distribution records and the search logic is quite complex. The quickest and most robust way to search the GISD is by using country names. The country or location search will return a list of species that occur in the location that matches your search term. Species that have been introduced to that location appear first, under the heading 'Alien'. They are followed by species whose profiles contain records stating that their native/alien status in that location is uncertain. They are listed under the heading 'Biostatus not specified'. Species that are native to the location that matches your search term (but are alien and invasive somewhere else) appear last under the heading 'Native Species'. It is important to remember that all invasive species are native somewhere. Species appear in more than one category when experts disagree about their origin.
    GISD profiles include numerous global distribution records linked to place names. The place names are linked to ISO 3166 standard country names (see List of countries) and to global regions using a geographic hierarchy (i.e. parent-children relationships). For example, Paris belongs to France, which belongs to Europe. Searches on global regions may take as long as 3 minutes. The GISD's global regions are Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australasia-Pacific, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North America and South America. It is better to search at the country level, because searches are quicker, but also because of some anomalies caused by our use of political rather than biogeographic associations in the geographic hierarchy. We chose to use political associations because most questions about invasive species are asked and answered in a political context. However, this results in Hawaii being assigned to USA in North America, Galapagos being assigned to Ecuador and Easter Island being assigned to Chile in South America. Thus if you search the GISD on 'Pacific', Hawaii, Galapagos and Easter Island are not included. We will improve this aspect of the GISD as funding allows but in the meantime, the most robust way to search the GISD is by country name.

      Habitat search
    The habitat search will return invasive species that occur in the habitat type you select from the drop-down menu. To disable the habitat search, select habitat type = all. All species in the GISD are assigned to one or more habitat types according to the detailed habitat descriptions in their profiles. The habitat types 'host' and 'vector' are used for organisms such as pathogens because they are more closely associated with other species than a particular environment.

      Organism type search
    The organism type search returns invasive species that match the type you select from the drop-down menu. To disable the organism type search, select organism type = all. All species in the GISD are assigned to one organism type according to their taxonomy. A few species are assigned to two organism types(e.g. some trees and shrubs). The organism type search is intended to simplify examination of different types of invasive species through the use of commonly used terms such as fish, bird or reptile.

    Combined searches are possible. Try exploring the database by typing ‘Rattus’ into the Species Name search and ‘New Zealand’ into the Country or location search. The database will return a list of invasive species named rattus that occur in New Zealand. Select, for example, ‘aquatic plant’ from the Organism type menu and ‘wetlands’ from the Habitat menu. The database will return a list of aquatic plants that occur in wetlands. 

    Taxonomic search:
    Select a taxonomic rank (e.g. Phylum), then enter the name of the phylum you are interested in (e.g. Chordata) to see a list of invasive species from that phylum.  

    List of species:
    The list of species in the GISD is sorted alphabetically by scientific name. Click on a species name to see a comprehensive profile.  

    List of countries:
    The alphabetical list of countries in the GISD is based on the ISO 3166 standard country names. Click on a country name to see the invasive species present there, sorted by their alien or native status. The alien species listed are those that have been introduced by humans, and the native species listed are those that are known to be invasive elsewhere in the world. The native or alien status of species is not always known, so there is a third category called “Biostatus not specified”.  

    100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species:
    Species were selected for this list using two criteria: their serious impact on biological diversity and/or livelihoods, and to illustrate important issues surrounding biological invasion. Click on a species name to see its comprehensive profile.

    GISD profiles:

    GISD profiles contain authoritative summary information about invasive species in plain English, including:

    • Scientific name, synonyms, common names, descriptions and images
    • Global distribution
    • Pathways and vectors of introduction and spread
    • Socioeconomic, cultural and environmental impacts (e.g. on endangered species or protected areas)
    • Prevention & management information
    • Contact details of specialists for advice

    The Ecology page
    The Ecology page presents essential information about the species, its potential impacts, how it lives, reproduces and spreads from region to region. There are images and descriptions to assist with identification, and management information is provided to help deal with the practical work of combating invasive alien species. Each profile carries the name of its author/compiler and expert reviewer along with the principal sources of information used.

    The Distribution page
    The Distribution page presents the global distribution of each invasive species alphabetically by country name, beginning with its alien range (the countries where it has been introduced). This is followed by countries where its biostatus is unspecified (the native or alien status of species is not always known) and finally the countries comprising its native range. Species distributions in the GISD are usually expressed in geopolitical rather than biogeographical terms because most questions about our response to invasive alien species are asked and answered within a political context.

    Click on a country name to see local distribution records based on information from a variety of sources including the literature, invasive species experts and programmes, government departments and agencies and research institutes. Note that these sources sometimes contradict each other. GISD distribution records include biostatus, date and type of introduction, impacts, management and the source of information. The biostatus of an organism in a particular location is described in terms of its occurrence, native/alien status and invasiveness as described in the following table:

    Biostatus terms used in the GISD:







    Recorded in error

    Native (no further data)

    Not invasive


    Native. Endemic

    Not specified


    Native. Non-endemic



    Not specified


    Uncertain biostatus (Cryptogenic)


    Established and expanding

    Established and stable

    In captivity/cultivated

    Sometimes present



    The Management Information page
    This page collates management information from the Ecology page, from location-specific management information from within distribution records, and from references and links that contain management information. For example, see prevention and management options, case study infor mation and references from around the world for Salvinia molesta or Solenopsis invicta.

    The Impacts page
    This page collates general impacts information from the Ecology page with location-specific impacts information from distribution records. The location-specific impact information is classified into impact types (e.g. economic, hybridisation) and can include the names of endangered species affected (e.g. see the impacts page of Vulpes vulpes the red fox).

    The References/Links age
    The References/Links page contains downloadable files, links to other websites and reference lists for each species. Information dealing specifically with management of the invasive species (prevention, eradication, control, containment or mitigation) is listed first as ‘Management information’. Other references and links appear under ‘General references’.

    The Contacts page
    People with specific expertise in the behaviour and management of particular invasive alien species are listed with their contact details. They can be contacted for additional advice.


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland