Invasive plant species are spreading at the rate of thousands of acres per day, causing the decline of native species and reducing the potential for survival for many threatened or endangered species. Dangerous invasive animal species such as the fire ant and the Africanized honeybee are invading our backyards, driving us-itching and screaming-into the relative safety but boring confinement of our own homes. Recognition of the adverse impact of invasive species has led to the creation of numerous information resources, a significant number of which are now easily accessed via the invasive species site.
In February 1999, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13112, which established the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), whose duties included the "establishment of a coordinated, up-to-date information-sharing system." To meet this mandate, an invasive species Web site was developed and is maintained by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dozens of partners, most prominently the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), have provided content and links to hundreds of information resources, resulting in a site of extraordinary complexity and depth.
The site is a significant information resource, but the dual NAL and NBII navigation tools, which have confusing button topic labels, impair its utility. Although the labels might lead one to think links and/or resources are duplicated by NAL and NBII, such is usually not the case; each agency's buttons provide links to unique resources. Using the browser's "back" button to trudge from NBII sites to the site's homepage to access NAL links is a tedious exercise indeed.
Despite its inherent navigational difficulties, the invasive species site is a useful resource for researchers, college students, educators and the general public. An alphabetical list of Web site partners provides links to an extraordinary diversity of sources for comprehensive information on a wide range of invasive species. The adventurous explorer will find sophisticated species search engines and useful, interesting links to systematics collections and natural history museum sites, taxonomic databases, agencies providing invasive species control and eradication information, news alerts, geospatial technologies, metadata, regional information, and much more. The invasive species Web site is a unique resource and is highly recommended.
Susan B. Case
University of Kansas