Mapping Invasive Alien Plants Through Citizen Science: Shortlisting Species of Concern for the Nilgiris

Shiny Mariam Rehel, R.S. Reshnu Raj, Samuel Thomas, Milind Bunyan, Anita Varghese  & Ankila J. Hiremath

Journal of Threatened Taxa | November 26, 2023

Species introduced from elsewhere are known as alien species. They may be introduced as crop plants or ornamental plants, or for timber. A small proportion of introduced species can become invasive thereby spreading at the cost of native species and habitats, negatively affecting biodiversity, food security, and human wellbeing. Despite the growing recognition of the threat of invasive alien species, we still lack information about the distribution and abundance of species widely accepted to be invasive. To address this information gap regarding invasive alien species distributions, we initiated a pilot citizen science effort to create an atlas of invasive plants in the Moyar-Bhavani landscape of the Nilgiri District. We aimed, through this pilot effort, to develop and test user-friendly mapping protocols and develop an interface for citizen scientists to use. Ultimately, we hope to create a model that can be scaled up to large conservation landscapes, such as the Western Ghats, the Central Indian Highlands, and the Himalaya.