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Detection probability of forest pests in current inspection protocols - a case study of the bronze birch borer

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Okland, Bjorn; Haack, Robert A.; Wilhelmsen, Gunnar

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Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 27: 285-297.


Increasing inter-continental trade of wood chips for biofuel represents a significant risk of introducing invasive pest species that can cause biome-scale impacts on forest ecosystems. Some potentially invasive species have the capacity to cause high tree mortality on the Eurasian continent and could cause significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Because eradication of established species is difficult, there is a need for scientific studies that can evaluate the reliability of current import control practices to ensure lowest possible risk of establishment of potentially harmful species. We used a stochastic simulation model and sensitivity analyses to evaluate the chance of detecting harmful pests in imported wood chips by sampling according to the current use of internationally accepted standards. As an example, we focused on the North American beetle Agrilus anxius (bronze birch borer) that can cause 100% mortality of European and Asian birch species in North America. We simulated the process from logging in North America to sampling the wood chips upon arrival in Europe. The probability of pest detection for current sampling protocols used by port inspectors was very low (<0.00005), while a 90% chance of detection may require sampling 27 million litres of wood chips per shipload.


Exotic species; interception records; quarantine pest; species introduction; wood chips


Haack, R.A. 2015. Life history patterns of longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae): A worldwide perspective. Newsletter of the Michigan Entomological Society 60(3&4): 31.

Last updated on: November 15, 2016