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This has led to the scope of the work being broadened from 'invasion biology' to 'invasion science', and has allowed the C-I-B to develop unique solutions that have had impact at international, national and local scales. Inputs, research framework and goals.

Unlike some of the other initial CoEs, the C-I-B was established de novo with the aim of providing the scientific understanding required to reduce the rate and impacts of biological invasions in a manner that improves the quality of life of all South Africans. The mission of the C-I-B is 1 to undertake research and education in the causes, effects and consequences of biological invasions for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; 2 to remain at the forefront of research regarding biological invasions, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning by pursuing research excellence and interdisciplinary collaboration and by encouraging local, regional and international exchanges; 3 to enhance the national and international societal relevance of the C-I-B by producing high-quality, relevant research, and graduates who are sought after; and 4 to remain relevant to the needs of the community, focusing on South Africa in the context of trends shaping Africa and the world.

Additional funding is sourced through research collaboration agreements with a range of national and international sources, most notably the Department of Environmental Affairs' Working for Water Programme. This funding has been used to support a wide spectrum of activities designed to meet five key performance areas KPAs : research; education and training; networking; information brokerage; and service provision.

The C-I-B has also recognised its duty to change the demographic profile of its students, in common with other CoEs and in line with broad government policy. The C-I-B has thus actively sought to attract students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds into the research and capacity-development programme. This has been challenging, as the broad field of biology is often not perceived as offering an attractive or lucrative career, especially among the target group of prospective students. The management of biological invasions is complex, demanding a robust and holistic understanding of the many and varied aspects of invasion and its various stages, and of appropriate management responses to those processes.

The C-I-B has adopted a research framework to guide the allocation of resources and to ensure that all facets of this complex problem are addressed effectively Figure 2. By engaging in a spread of activities across this framework, the C-I-B covers the full spectrum of research required to fully understand biological invasions and to explicitly link research outputs to the development of policy and the improvement of management. The network of core team members is based at several South African universities and institutions.

This inter-institutional arrangement allows for a broad range of research interactions involving a wide diversity of research associates, postdoctoral fellows and students Table 1. The C-I-B also collaborates with other organisations involved in invasion biology. The C-I-B reports to a Board which currently comprises 14 members from eight South African and two international institutions active in the environmental and conservation fields.

Research papers published in peer-reviewed journals are given prominence in the C-I-B's research KPA, where there is a requirement for a minimum number of such papers to be published annually. This target currently set at 60 papers per year has grown over time, but the actual output has always exceeded the annual target.

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Since its inception, the C-I-B has, as of June , published a total of papers in Web of Science formerly ISI indexed journals, representing a significant contribution to global understanding in the field of invasion biology Figure 3a. Invasive species feature prominently in these publications, which address a wide range of topics from evolution and ecological processes to conservation and management Figure 4. In addition to publications in the peer-reviewed literature, C-I-B activities have led to the production of several synthesis volumes and many semi-popular texts that have both increased understanding in the field, and raised awareness of the issue among a wider audience Table 2 , Figure 5.

Publications arising from the C-I-B have addressed 21 of these ' worst' species including one aquatic and eight terrestrial plants, four fish, two mammals, two birds, and two aquatic and two terrestrial invertebrates , indicating the wide coverage of research at the C-I-B. Postgraduate training is a core function of the C-I-B and funds are made available to students in the form of bursaries, running costs for research projects and travel grants.

The education and training KPA stipulates that at least 50 postgraduate students should be supported each year, and that at least half of the students should be women, and half should be black. The periods of study are also monitored, with a requirement that, on average, master's and doctoral students should graduate within 2.

During the first decade of activity, 97 students graduated with 4-year BSc or honours degrees, 60 with master's degrees and 35 with doctoral degrees Figure 6. The average duration of study was 2.


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Graduates of the C-I-B have found employment in a wide range of sectors, including in government, science councils, parastatal organisations, NGOs, tertiary education institutions, and the private sector. There has thus been a growing contribution to human capacity in the field of researching and managing biological invasions, not only in South Africa but also in other African countries. Graduates of the C-I-B do not only provide capacity in the field of invasion science, they also raise awareness of the problem of biological invasions, and grow the discipline in their respective spheres of influence.


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Contributions to invasion science. Research conducted at the C-I-B has addressed invasion patterns and processes, and their management and remediation, at all stages of the introduction-naturalisation-invasion continuum Figure 2. The C-I-B has made substantial contributions to invasion science on multiple fronts Table 3. The term 'invasion science' was proposed to describe the full spectrum of fields of enquiry pertaining to alien species and biological invasions. It embraces invasion biology and ecology, but increasingly draws on non-biological lines of enquiry, including economics, ethics, sociology, and inter- and transdisciplinary studies.

For example, work on tree invasions has addressed key questions and sought new solutions at a range of scales from genes to ecosystems, merging results from detailed biological studies with investigations of human perceptions and other socio-economic aspects, and drawing new insights by contrasting the South African situation with examples from other parts of the world.

High-impact contributions to invasion science have been made to all elements of the framework in Figure 2 and for all the main taxonomic groups of invaders the bias in favour of plants is in line with the global dominance of botanical work in the literature on biological invasions , 37 and across all biomes and ecosystem types in South Africa.

Key fields in invasion science that are under-represented in the C-I-B's research output are biological control and the ecology and management of alien microorganisms. The C-I-B has intentionally not undertaken basic research in these fields, because both have their own well-resourced research programmes in South Africa.

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For biological control, C-I-B research outputs have, among other things, demonstrated the crucial need to reduce seed production to contain key invasive plant species 39 ; assessed the overall contribution of biological control to the management of invasive alien plants and the protection of ecosystem services in South Africa 40 ; and identified the exact provenance of invasive species using molecular ecology to facilitate better host matching for biocontrol agents For microorganisms, the role of mutualistic associations between bacteria and plant roots that facilitate invasions by alien legumes has been explored in several studies.

Influence at an international level. The C-I-B has emerged as one of the leading institutes worldwide that conduct research on invasive species as their primary focus. The research carried out at the C-I-B has been influential in shaping the global development of invasion science, as evidenced by the production of hundreds of publications that have been cited thousands of times Figure 3 , Tables 2 and 3.

Some examples of the influence of the C-I-B's research at an international level are outlined here. Extensive research over the past 10 years has established the C-I-B as a centre for knowledge generation relating to the biology and conservation of the Antarctic. South Africa's involvement in the Antarctic Treaty and presence on that continent, as well as its ownership of the sub-Antarctic.


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Prince Edward Islands, make the country a key player in Antarctic policy relating to conservation and management practices. Further work of international relevance has been focused on the development of Headline Indicators to measure progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity's target of reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity by The C-I-B was contracted to develop and populate indicators of 'trends in invasive alien species'.

Until , no fully developed indicator for invasive alien species was available that combined trends, used a standard set of methods, and addressed a range of species groups, ecosystems and regions. This absence prevented the objective assessment of this key trend worldwide, particularly in the context of the commitment of the Convention on Biological Diversity's signatories to 'achieve by a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth'. Following the development of the indicators, 45,46 the research team contributed to an assessment using 30 indicators of biodiversity change of the global effort to achieve the biodiversity target.

The outcomes of this assessment showed that the rate of biodiversity loss has not been significantly reduced. Another key intervention was the major contribution from the C-I-B to a new scheme for ranking the impacts of invasive species. This scheme was designed to have a similar structure and logic to the widely adopted IUCN Red List for categorising extinction risk so that it could potentially be integrated with existing Red Listing practices and policies.

The C-I-B's research has also influenced many international policy documents. The technical background document provides the basis for the main GBO-4 report, to be launched in Korea in October Influence at a national level. The C-I-B has made substantial inputs to the development of policy relating to biological invasions in South Africa.

For example, the C-I-B incorporated key research findings from its own programmes and from the international literature into the formulation of the regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act relating to alien and invasive species. Several core team members participated in a task team assembled by the DEA to develop objective, science-based lists of alien and invasive species; to compile a risk-assessment framework based on international best practice and advances in invasion biology in South Africa; and to participate in the drafting of the regulations.

Fifty Years of Invasion Ecology : David M. Richardson :

Outcomes from diverse C-I-B research were used in the process, and expert insights ensured that the regulations were grounded in international best practice from the fields of invasion biology and environmental management. Such impact is reflected in the overall structure and content of the regulations, which were published in January 49 , and are currently undergoing public review.

This comprehensive strategy, based on the inputs of 19 authors more than half of whom were from the C-I-B and numerous workshop participants, addresses all aspects of the management of biological invasions, covering all taxa and all stages of invasion. In developing this strategy, the C-I-B worked closely with the DEA to ensure that the best science-based practices were incorporated, while at the same time ensuring that these would be practically implementable in the South African socio-political context.

The strategy is to be released shortly by the DEA. The C-I-B was also contracted by the DEA to review international best practice in the field of risk assessment for invasive species 50 and to prepare guidelines for the implementation of risk assessment methods as part of national protocols for preventing the introduction of new invasive species. This unit, funded by the Working for Water Programme 13 the branch of the DEA responsible for managing invasive alien species , was designed to 1 detect and document new invasions, 2 provide reliable and transparent post-border risk assessments and 3 provide the cross-institutional coordination needed to successfully implement national eradication plans.

The C-I-B will continue to be a key research partner for SANBI's ISP, enabling them to meet their broader mandate of reporting on the state of invasion nationally, managing data on biological invasions, and coordinating risk assessments. Research conducted at the C-I-B has also improved on-the-ground invasive species management.

Since , a large part of the research efforts of the C-I-B have been guided by a formal collaboration with Working for Water on research and capacity-building entitled 'Integrated management of invasive alien species in South Africa'. The partnership has produced numerous research outputs, including several economic assessments of the costs and impacts of invasive species 2,3,40 that have been crucial for justifying the expenditure of public funds on natural resource management initiatives like Working for Water.

The partnership has also trained postgraduate students 37 degrees have been completed in a range of disciplines related to conservation biology, environmental management and invasion ecology, and provided regular training to employees of the Working for Water Programme. Impacts at sub-national or local levels. The C-I-B is integrally involved in outreach activities aimed at developing interest, capacity and awareness in biodiversity and biological invasions.

These activities range from exhibitions to training courses, providing expertise where it is requested, and learning lessons from real-life practice. Early in the life of the C-I-B, ants were identified as a suitable group of organisms on which to base an innovative outreach and awareness-raising project, entitled limbovane the isiXhosa word for ants.