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Tracking Invasive Alien Species in Europe

Helping to find and identify animals and plants that are far from home, and threaten local environments.


About this topic

Alien Species are increasing worldwide and are currently present in almost every ecosystem type on Earth. They belong to all major taxonomic groups, including viruses, fungi, algae, mosses, ferns, higher plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. In some cases they have become invasive, affecting native biota. Invasive alien species can transform the structure and species composition of ecosystems by repressing or excluding native species, either directly by predation, competing with them for resources, or indirectly by modifying habitats. 


The effects to human health include the spread of diseases and allergens, while to the economy there can be damage to agriculture and infrastructure. It is estimated that 10-15 % of the alien species identified in Europe are invasive, causing environmental, economic and/or social damage.





Recognising the increasingly serious problem of IAS in Europe, the European Commission has recently published a dedicated Regulation on Invasive Alien Species. Implementation of this Regulation will be supported by an information system developed by the JRC, it is called European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN).

Yet, it remains challenging to detect and identify Invasive Alien Species, which may occur everywhere on the European territory – which covers approximately 4.4 mission square kilometers. We therefore need your help to find and identify animals and plants that are far from home, and threaten local environments.



How does it work?

We, the Joint Research Centre, the in-house science service of the European Commission developed an app that helps collecting data about potential Invasive Alien Species. Its aim is to enable the general public (amateurs and professionals) to receive and share information about Invasive Alien Species in Europe.

Specifically, the app’s purposes are:

  1. to allow recording invasive species occurrences by using citizen phones’ GPS system and phones’ cameras;
  2. to provide information about a selected number of Invasive Alien Species (pictures, short description, addition useful information);
  3. to foster citizens’ awareness about the problems caused by Invasive Alien Species in Europe and actively getting the public involved in the management of Invasive Alien Species.

This app includes a first selection of Invasive Alien Species of European priority. More species are expected to be added in subsequent releases of the app, following the progress of the European policy on Invasive Alien Species.

How to use the app?

You may participate by reporting occurrences of alien species near you. All it needs is a mobile app that helps identifying different species, allows for taking pictures, and enables anybody to upload his or her sightings.

You may contribute by downloading the app from Google Play or iTunes, and then using it in the wild.

What happens then?

The sightings of possible Invasive Alien Species that you, we and others collect with the smart phone app become immediately visible at another part of this page. Here you can directly explore what has been collected in the context of this campaign and relate it to other relevant information, including the authoritative data from EASIN and more.

Since the occurrence of an Invasive Alien Species has legal and administrative implications, all contributions that are provided by this campaign undergo a two-phased validation process. A pre-validation assures that uploaded pictures and comments do not include any insults, and that they indeed report about the occurrence of a particular species. In a second step, a group of selected and recognized experts on Invasive Alien Species will consider the inputs and try to identify if the observed species is indeed part of the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern. If so, the then validated data will be included in EASIN, and the required legal processes will be launched. You can follow the validation steps for each entry on out dedicated data page for this campaign.