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By June 7, 2018 Read More →

“Biosecurity” Gives New Dimension to Protecting Borders

When people and goods move around the world, they spread nonnative species—including pathogens that can cause disease—leading to huge economic impacts. Many countries try to limit pathogen arrivals by screening goods and people before they enter.

But are these biosecurity measures effective? Pathogens are hard to detect, and we rarely have data on key metrics such as the volume of goods imported, number of people arriving, and new nonnative pathogens establishing over time.

Pathogen arrivals flatten in spite of increased import and air arrivals

“Although trade is closely tied to the number of new invasions we have from fungal pathogens, if we have targeted biosecurity we can start to break down this link,” said lead author of a major new study, Benjamin Sikes, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas and assistant scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey. “Because globalization and imports to and from other countries are just going to keep increasing, most data have shown with that come lots of new invasive species around the world. The question is, can you slow that? This work shows that link can be slowed with implementation of targeted biosecurity measures.”

The study uses a database of all known New Zealand plant pathogen records to estimate how many fungal pathogens arrived and established on 131 economically important plant species each year over the last 133 years. Pathogen arrivals increased exponentially for 100 years starting in 1880, paralleling an increasing volume of goods imported. Since about 1980, the rate of new pathogen arrivals has stopped increasing, despite imports and the arrival of people continuing to accelerate.

However, these recent trends differ among plants from different economic sectors. Pathogen arrivals on crop and forage plants have declined but continue to increase on forestry and fruit trees. This trend reflects differences in the biosecurity measures imposed, suggesting that targeted biosecurity can reduce the establishment of nonnative pathogens even while global trade and travel continue to increase.

Benjamin A. Sikes , Jennifer L. Bufford, Philip E. Hulme, Jerry A. Cooper, Peter R. Johnston, Richard P. Duncan
Published: May 31, 2018  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006025

Additional materials provided by University of Kansas.

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Posted in: Invasive News, News

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