Promise and challenges of risk assessment as an approach for preventing the arrival of invasive species

Promise and challenges of risk assessment as an approach for preventing the arrival of invasive species
Reuben P. Keller1
1Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Loyola University Chicago. 1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660. , (+1)(773)508-2952

Invasive species are a major threat to agriculture, environments, and economies around the world. One main method for reducing this threat is to implement risk assessment programs that proactively estimate whether non-native species are likely to cause harm. When these programs are coupled with efforts to prevent the arrival of high risk species they have been shown to be effective at reducing invasive species harms. Several recent studies have also shown that although risk assessment programs reduce the number of species available for trade they produce large economic benefits for nations because invasive species impacts are relatively expensive compared to the benefits of species in trade. Risk assessment tools clearly have great potential and although they are not yet widely implemented there are increasing efforts by nations to develop them. Despite this, these programs are often poorly coordinated both within and among nations, and many taxa are not adequately covered. Additionally, a bewildering range of approaches to risk assessment have been developed, with a particularly sharp divide between the approaches favored by academics and managers. In this presentation I will discuss the progress that has recently been made in risk assessment and the promise of additional benefits from wider coordination and implementation. I will also discuss the main challenges to increased use of risk assessment and how I believe those challenges can be overcome.