Friday, March 21, 2014

International researchers mobilize against risky stowaway pests

Sometimes there is more to global trade than meets the eye. While consumers and economies may benefit from expanding market opportunities and a seemingly endless array of readily available goods, harmful pests could be lurking as people and products are transported between countries.

New Zealand has one of the most well-developed forest biosecurity programs in the world. The logs
pictured here at the Port of Tauranga were fumigated prior to export to minimize the chance of
accidentally spreading forest pests. (U.S. Forest Service/Frank Koch)
An international research network, including scientists from the U.S. Forest Service, has come together to share information about how exotic animals, diseases and plants can move and spread—and threaten agricultural and natural resources.

The International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup consists of governmental and academic scientists from around the globe who study potential stowaway pests in order to assess the likelihood of their establishment in new locations and the impacts if and where they spread.

Frank Koch, a research ecologist with the Forest Service’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and founding member of mapping workgroup, develops maps that show possible pathways for invasion...


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