Mapping invasive species risks with stochastic models: a cross-border United States-Canada application for Sirex noctilio fabricius

Risk Anal. 2009 Jun;29(6):868-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2009.01203.x. Epub 2009 Feb 9.


Nonindigenous species have caused significant impacts to North American forests despite past and present international phytosanitary efforts. Though broadly acknowledged, the risks of pest invasions are difficult to quantify as they involve interactions between many factors that operate across a range of spatial and temporal scales: the transmission of invading organisms via various pathways, their spread and establishment in new environments. Our study presents a stochastic simulation approach to quantify these risks and associated uncertainties through time in a unified fashion. We outline this approach with an example of a forest pest recently detected in North America, Sirex noctilio Fabricius. We simulate new potential entries of S. noctilio as a stochastic process, based on recent volumes of marine shipments of commodities from countries where S. noctilio is established, as well as the broad dynamics of foreign marine imports. The results are then linked with a spatial model that simulates the spread of S. noctilio within the geographical distribution of its hosts (pines) while incorporating existing knowledge about its behavior in North American landscapes. Through replications, this approach yields a spatial representation of S. noctilio risks and uncertainties in a single integrated product. The approach should also be appealing to decisionmakers, since it accounts for projected flows of commodities that may serve as conduits for pest entry. Our 30-year forecasts indicate high establishment probability in Ontario, Quebec, and the northeastern United States, but further southward expansion of S. noctilio is uncertain, ultimately depending on the impact of recent international treatment standards for wood packing materials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canada
  • Hymenoptera*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stochastic Processes*
  • United States