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Current Status of the Asian-Pacific Alien Species Database (Apasd) and Its International Network
Atsushi Mochizuki
National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences
Kannondai 3-1-3, Tsukuba, 305-8604
Japan, 2008-01-15

Abstract

An online database system, the Asian-Pacific Alien Species Database (APASD), was developed for the exchange and sharing of data regarding invasive alien species (IAS) in the Asia-Pacific region. The APASD is a relational database which can store large amount of information. The target species of the APASD are all organisms (plants, insects, nematodes, mammals, other animals, fungi, bacteria, viruses) that have invaded the Asia-Pacific region from foreign countries. The APASD contains a great deal of information on IAS, including taxonomy, establishment, distribution, environmental impact, economic damage, reproduction, growth, countermeasures, habitat, photographs of alien species and the associated damage, and reference literature. The APASD includes information not only on the species that cause direct economic damage, but also on species that cause indirect damage such as the environmental impact on biodiversity. Anyone can access the APASD and search for IAS information. At this time, only 47 species are registered: 1 bacterium, 1 fungus, 1 nematode, 21 insects, 2 mammals, 6 other animals, 13 plants, and 3 viruses. To improve the value of this database, it is necessary to construct a global network with other such databases in other countries.

Key words: APASD, database system, invasive alien species

Introduction

The number of exotic species invading foreign environments has been steadily increasing in recent years, largely due to the increase in global trade. In Japan, 1,548 plants, 44 fish, 3 amphibians, 13 reptiles, 39 birds, 28 mammals, and 415 insects were listed as alien species in The Handbook of Alien Species in Japan (2002). Some of these species are regarded as IAS (Invasive Alien Species), defined by the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) as non-native organisms that cause or have the potential to cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have also had similar invasive species problems. Exchanging data and knowledge about invasive species among countries is an important countermeasure to biological invasions. A database system, the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), has been developed by the ISSG (Invasive Species Specialist Group) in The World Conservation Union (IUCN) towards such an exchange. However, IAS information in the Asia-Pacific region is lacking in this database. The ISSG encourages regional activities to complement the above efforts (GISP 2001). Substantial cooperation and unrestrained information sharing in the Asia-Pacific region is now required to achieve this. To address this issue, the Asian-Pacific Alien Species Database (APASD, http://apasd-niaes.dc.affrc.go.jp/) has been constructed as a collaborative undertaking between FFTC and NIAES in 2003, for the purpose of exchanging IAS information. The database has been discussed thoroughly in two other previous workshops (Yamanaka and Matsui 2003; Matsui et al. 2004). In this paper, the current status of the APASD is presented, as well as NIAES' perspective in terms of further improving the database through enhanced cooperation and system development.

Features of the Apasd

1. Relational Database

The APASD can store a large amount of information on many invasive alien species in many countries.

2. Target Region

The target of the database is the Asia-Pacific region.

3. Target Species

The target species of the APASD are all organisms (plants, insects, nematodes, mammals, other animals, fungi, bacteria, viruses) that have invaded native agro-ecosystems from foreign countries. The APASD includes information not only on species that cause direct economic damage, but also on species that cause indirect damage such as environmental impact on biodiversity.

4. Type of Information

The APASD contains extensive information on IAS, including taxonomy, establishment, distribution, environmental impact, economic damage, reproduction, growth, countermeasures, habitat, photographs of alien species and the associated damage, and reference literature. This information is useful for early detection, emergency control, integrated pest management (IPM), and risk assessment.

5. Expanded Functions

a. The ability to link the English version of the APASD with other language versions

The APASD is written in English. However, if the APASD is available in other languages, it will be more useful to clients such as farmers, local government officers, and extension officers in each country. For this purpose, we have added a new function that links the English version of the APASD with other language versions. At this time, a Japanese version of the APASD has been completed. To use this function, specialists in each country must first make a local language version of the APASD that corresponds to the English version.

b. Synonyms for species names

In some cases, one organism has different taxonomic names. In this database, a menu is available for inputting a synonym list. By clicking "substantially same species (synonym)" under the organism name, a list of synonyms or substantially same species appears on the next page. Users can then search for all data on the species by investigating each of the synonyms and substantially same species.

A Brief Manual

After the FFTC-NIAES sponsored workshop in 2004, the APASD has been considerably improved. The procedure for using the database is almost the same as before. A brief manual is presented here, which will be helpful in further understanding the database.

1. How to Search for Information on Each Ias (Search for Target Species)

Anyone can freely use the database to search for IAS information. At the top of the first page, the following menu can be seen ( Fig. 1(973)): a) What is APASD? (objective of the database); b) How to use APASD? (a simple manual); c) What's new? (the latest news); d) Copyright; and e) Link.

At the end of the menu, there is an entrance to the APASD, "Go to APASD." After clicking here, a menu for searching for IAS information is displayed on the next page ( Fig. 2(1253)). Users must first select at least one organism group (two or more organisms can be selected). The country or region name, and year of invasion or detection are not necessarily required. After clicking the "search" button, the results will be displayed on the next page ( Fig. 3(1061)). The results can be narrowed using some of the features on this page. By clicking "Details" in the second column of the results table (main table), detailed data for each species is displayed. On the upper left-hand side of this page, a menu for sub-tables is shown. This menu includes similar species, host species, photos of alien and similar species and damage, reference, and habitat. Each of these data categories can be viewed on another page (sub-table) by clicking on the items. For example, if "Photos of alien and similar species and damage" is selected, a photograph will be displayed ( Fig. 4(1)). At the bottom of the page for each species, there is a "print version" button. By clicking it, all data in the main table and sub-tables on the species will be displayed.

2. How to Compare Species Data among Countries and Regions

Users can compare data on a target species among countries. Starting with the main table in Figure 2, there is a "Comparing data of a species among countries and regions" tab on the upper side of the page. On the next page, by selecting an organism group and the initials of the species name (scientific name), a species list will appear below the screen. If too many species are listed, the number can be narrowed down or specified by entering directly the species name. Upon clicking a species name, data lists from countries and regions are displayed ( Fig. 5(973)). On this page, the menu shows year of invasion or detection, native region, situation of establishment, expansion of distribution area, environmental impact, economic damage, type of reproduction (reproduction), parameter on growth (growth), control methods (countermeasure), writer's name and affiliation, and taxonomic description. Users can then compare the data on the above items among countries and regions.

3. Search for References

References are stored in a master reference table. Users can search the literature by selecting "Search for reference" on the upper part of the main page ( Fig. 2(1253)) and inputting the author's name and a part of the title and/or keywords.

4. Data Input and Update

Users are permitted to submit IAS information as contributors. To become a contributor, one must first acquire a user's ID and password, which can be given upon request by e-mail to the secretariat (apasd@niaes.affrc.go.jp). To enter the site as a contributor, click the menu on the lower right side of the page ( Fig. 6(1088)).

Select the "Menu for data registration" on the page and input a user's ID and password. Click "Form for data input" to begin inputting IAS data ( Fig. 7(1076)). Contributors can input data in either the select-boxes or in text-boxes except for "Organism's name." Contributors cannot write an organism's name directly. The organism's name is prepared beforehand in the master table by the administrator. Contributors must select the organism name from the master table. Click the "select" button below "Organism's name" to get the form for selecting a certain species from the master table ( Fig. 8(1152)). Then, select the organism group and initials of the species name (scientific name) ( Fig. 9(1176)). When contributors specify the species, the page will automatically go back to the data input page and the column for the organism's name will be filled. If contributors cannot find a species name to submit, refer to the secretariat of the APASD by e-mail (apasd@niaes.affrc.go.jp). The secretariat can input a species name. By clicking the "input" button on the right side of the column, the column can be enlarged to write data. When contributors are finished entering the information, the register button at the bottom of the main page is clicked. If contributors want to separate the data into more than two paragraphs, they must input a

mark at the top of each paragraph and a

mark at the end of the paragraph. It is not allowed to submit data without selecting a "Country/Region name." The APASD system has two structures for storing data: a tentative record system and a regular record system. The confidence and safety of the data are maintained by these systems. Submitted data by contributors are treated as tentative record. After checking the data, the administrator then transfers the registration to a regular record within a few days.

To update the data, use the "Form for data renewal."

To input literature information, select "Form for reference master registration." The following items: "Authors," "Year," "Title," "Magazine," and "Key Words" are required. If the title of the paper is written in the native language, it should be translated into English. Uploading the electronic article itself in PDF format is recommended. Click the register button at the bottom of the page to finish article registration.

Information on similar species, host species, photos, and habitat cannot be entered until the main data are inputted. After the registration of data on an IAS is completed in the "Form for data input," contributors select the "Form for data renewal" on the data registration page ( Fig. 7(1076)), and then select an organism group and specify the species name ( Fig. 10(1018)). Contributors can renew their own IAS data which have already been inputted. If contributors click the species name, the contributors will find a menu on the top of the page ( Fig. 11(1058)). Items on similar species, host species, and habitat cannot be inputted directly, but can be selected from the list in the APASD. If no data is found, the secretariat should be consulted.

By selecting "Register" on the "Photos of alien and similar species and damage" item, contributors can upload digital photo files ( Fig. 12(1383)). Photo files must be in JPEG format, less than 200x150 pixels, and under 50 KB. Photo files can be uploaded by clicking the "browse" button and confirmed by clicking the "Confirm the selected photo" button. In the "Name of offerer and explanation of photo" column, the copyright, ©+name, and legend of the photo must be described. The "Photo code" column is not necessary for input. Photos can be designated by the code number.

Current Status of the Apasd

Countries that have inputted data into the APASD include the following: Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Renewal points after 2004:

  • "What is APASD?" and "How to use APASD?" were renewed.
  • The design of the database was renewed.
  • The page for retrieving species is new.
  • The item for describing taxonomic characteristics was added.
  • The data on "Details" of the "Situation of establishment" was transferred to the "Expansion of distribution area".

A total of 47 species are currently registered: 1 bacterium, 1 fungus, 1 nematode, 21 insects, 2 mammals, 6 other animals, 13 plants, and 3 viruses. Detailed species names are as follows:

  • Bacterium: Greening bacterium
  • Fungus: potato late blight fungi
  • Insects (21 species): Agromyzid fly, alfalfa weevil, Argentine ant, fall webworm, greenhouse whitefly, large white butterfly (large white), mango pulp weevil, mango seed weevil, melon thrips, potato tuber moth (potato tuberworm, potato splitworm), ragweed beetle, red imported fire ant, rice black bug, rice water weevil, serpentine leafminer (legume leaf miner, Florida mining fly), silverleaf whitefly, sweetpotato weevil, tropical fire ant, vegetable leafminer (tomato leafminer), West Indian sweetpotato weevil, western flower thrips
  • Mammal (2 species): nutria, raccoon
  • Nematode: potato cyst nematode
  • Other animals (5 species): American crayfish, giant African snail, golden apple snail, tadpole shrimp, Uchida crayfish.
  • Plants (13 species): Carolina horsenettle, gallant-soldier, giant ragweed, giant sensitive plant, giant star grass, goosegrass, heartleaf drymary, jungle rice, narrowleaf cattail, tall goldenrod, romerillo (bidens), velvetleaf, water hyacinth.
  • Viruses (3): tomato yellow leaf curl virus, papaya ringspot virus, tomato spotted wilt virus.

Future Perspectives

Data is the most essential part of a database. However, it is difficult for contributors to input all items needed in the APASD. By linking to other databases, some items may be substituted. The GISD is a good example of networking of databases. The GISD links many other databases together. For example, the taxonomic status of a species can be easily searched for, because each species links to another database, such as the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), which is constructed by experts in taxonomy. The ITIS contains species mainly in North America. However, a native species in a given country can be an invasive species in another country. In some cases, information on the native species is available. For example, the rice water weevil, Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus first invaded Japan from North America. Information regarding the taxonomic hierarchy, similar species, and photos of the weevil can be found in the ITIS. Linking these data into the APASD will be helpful in complementing information on rice water weevil. The ITTS has formed a partnership with "Species 2000," which aims to create a validated checklist of the world's species. There is also a plan to create a "Species 2000 Asia-Oceania" list. In Japan, a project to form a taxonomic information network is also ongoing. The taxonomic information network is only one example. To enhance the APASD, it is necessary to construct a global network for the sharing and exchange of invasive species data, information, knowledge, and related metadata in other databases. Collaboration among regional governments, other organizations, and researchers is also necessary. We will continuously improve the APASD and make it available to the world.

References

  • Ecological Society of Japan (Ed.). 2002. Handbook of Alien Species in Japan. Chijinshokan Co., Ltd, Tokyo, 390pp (in Japanese).
  • GISP. 2001. Global Strategy on Invasive Alien Species. IUCN Publication Services Unit, Cambridge, 50pp.
  • Matsui, M., K. Nishiyama, Y. Ogawa, T. Shiomi, A. Konuma, and K. Yasuda. 2004. Development of the Asian_Pacific Alien Species Database (APASD). Pages 44-45 in: Proceedings of International Workshop on the Development of a Database for Biological Invasion in the Asian and Pacific Region. Taichung, Taiwan.
  • Yamanaka, T., and M. Matsui. 2003. Development and utilization of APASD (Asian_Pacific Alien Species Database), Pages 155-176 in: Proceedings of International Seminar on Biological Invasions. NIAES and FFTC, Tsukuba, Japan.
  • Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) web site; http://www.issg.org/ database/welcome/
  • The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) web site; http://www.itis. usda.gov/ index.html

Index of Images

Figure 1 First Page of the Apasd.

Figure 1 First Page of the Apasd.

Figure 2 Species Search Page.

Figure 2 Species Search Page.

Figure 3 Search Results Page.

Figure 3 Search Results Page.

Figure 4 Sub-Table of Photos.

Figure 4 Sub-Table of Photos.

Figure 5 Comparing Data for a Species among Countries and Regions.

Figure 5 Comparing Data for a Species among Countries and Regions.

Figure 6 Page for Data Registration and Administrator.

Figure 6 Page for Data Registration and Administrator.

Figure 7 Menu for Data Registration.

Figure 7 Menu for Data Registration.

Figure 8 Page for Data Input.

Figure 8 Page for Data Input.

Figure 9 Select Page for Species Name.

Figure 9 Select Page for Species Name.

Figure 10 Table of Species Already Registered.

Figure 10 Table of Species Already Registered.

Figure 11 Page for Updating Data.

Figure 11 Page for Updating Data.

Figure 12 Photo Registration Page.

Figure 12 Photo Registration Page.

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