GIRAE: A generalised approach for linking the total impact of invasion to species' range, abundance and per-unit effects

Guillaume Latombe, Jane A. Catford, Franz Essl, Bernd Lenzner, David M. Richardson, John R. U. Wilson, Melodie A. Mcgeoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The total impact of an alien species was conceptualised as the product of its range size, local abundance and per-unit effect in a seminal paper by Parker et al. (Biol Invasions 1:3–19, 1999). However, a practical approach for estimating the three components has been lacking. Here, we generalise the impact formula and, through use of regression models, estimate the relationship between the three components of impact, an approach we term GIRAE (Generalised Impact = Range size × Abundance × per-unit Effect). We discuss how GIRAE can be applied to multiple types of impact, including environmental impacts, damage and management costs. We propose two methods for applying GIRAE. The species-specific method computes the relationship between impact, range size, abundance and per-unit effect for a given species across multiple invaded sites or regions of different sizes. The multi-species method combines data from multiple species across multiple sites or regions to calculate a per-unit effect for each species and is computed using a single regression model. The species-specific method is more accurate, but it requires a large amount of data for each species and assumes a constant per-unit effect for a species across the invaded area. The multi-species method is more easily applicable and data-parsimonious, but assumes the same relationship between impact, range size and abundance for all considered species. We illustrate these methods using data about money spent managing plant invasions in different biomes of South Africa. We found clear differences between species in terms of money spent per unit area invaded, with per-unit expenditure varying substantially between biomes for some species—insights that are useful for monitoring and evaluating management. GIRAE offers a versatile and practical method that can be applied to many different types of data to better understand and manage the impacts of biological invasions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalBiological Invasions
Early online date11 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2022


  • abundance
  • biological invasions
  • impact
  • invasive alien plant species
  • vegetation management
  • occupancy
  • South Africa


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