Building the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN): a novel approach for the exploration of distributed alien species data
biological invasions, interoperable web services, online databases, standardization, widgets
The European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN; http://easin.jrc.ec.europa.eu) aims to facilitate the exploration of existing alien species information from distributed sources through a network of interoperable web services, and to assist the implementation of European policies on biological invasions. The network allows extraction of alien species information from online information systems for all species included in the EASIN catalogue. This catalogue was based on an inventory of reported alien species in Europe that was produced by reviewing and standardizing information from 43 online databases. It includes information on taxonomy, synonyms, common names, pathways of introduction, native range in Europe, and impact. EASIN catalogue entails the basic information needed to efficiently link to existing online databases and retrieve spatial information for alien species distribution in Europe. Using search functionality powered by a widget framework, it is possible to make a tailored selection of a subgroup of species based on various criteria (e.g., environment, taxonomy, pathways). Distribution maps of the selected species can be produced dynamically and downloaded by the user. The EASIN web tools and services follow internationally recognized standards and protocols, and can be utilized freely and independently by any website, while ownership of the data remains with its source, which is properly cited and linked.