A checklist recipe: making species data open and fair.
Species checklists are a crucial source of information for research and policy. Unfortunately, many traditional species checklists vary wildly in their content, format, availability and maintenance. The fact that these are not open, findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) severely hampers fast and efficient information flow to policy and decision-making that are required to tackle the current biodiversity crisis. Here, we propose a reproducible, semi-automated workflow to transform traditional checklist data into a FAIR and open species registry. We showcase our workflow by applying it to the publication of the Manual of Alien Plants, a species checklist specifically developed for the Tracking Invasive Alien Species (TrIAS) project. Our approach combines source data management, reproducible data transformation to Darwin Core using R, version control, data documentation and publication to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This checklist publication workflow is openly available for data holders and applicable to species registries varying in thematic, taxonomic or geographical scope and could serve as an important tool to open up research and strengthen environmental decision-making.