This Plant Biosecurity CRC project has identified wind-assisted long distance natural dispersal of plant pests as an under-estimated biosecurity risk to Australia. However, given that long distance dispersal is beyond our control, effective management of incursions requires early detection and intervention to reduce the chance of establishment of new pests. This project thus aims to identify new surveillance strategies to better quantify and minimise the risk by; prioritising plant pest threats, identifying high risk areas for incursions and; how and when these areas should be surveyed. Such information will assist organisations, such as NAQS, target surveillance for wind dispersed threats, and will support horticultural industries update and improve their biosecurity plans.
Four primary pathways for natural dispersal into Australia have been previously identified: from PNG into northern Queensland; from Indonesia into north-west WA and NT; from the Pacific islands into eastern Australia and; from New Zealand into south-eastern Australia. The project is investigating improved trapping techniques and bulk DNA sampling methods for rapid and improved diagnostics of a pest presence. In addition, during 2016-2018 we will be comparing different passive traps in field conditions at two locations in northern and at least one in south-eastern Australia.
The final aim is to indicate improved surveillance strategies for early detection and/or monitoring of species that use wind as a means of dispersal and are therefore prone to long distance dispersal. The output of the project will be improved surveillance systems and biosecurity preparedness for naturally dispersed pests for Australia.