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Worldwide border interceptions provide a window into human-mediated global insect movement

July 2021

Publication: Ecological Applications
Author(s): Turner RM, Brockerhoff EG, Bertelsmeier C, Blake RE, Caton B, James A, MacLeod A, Nahrung HF, Pawson SM, Plank MJ, Pureswaran DS, Seebens H, Yamanaka T, Liebhold AM

As part of national biosecurity programs, cargo imports, passenger baggage, and international mail are inspected at ports of entry to verify compliance with phytosanitary regulations and to intercept potentially damaging nonnative species to prevent their introduction. Detection of organisms during inspections may also provide crucial information about the species composition and relative arrival rates in invasion pathways that can inform the implementation of other biosecurity practices such as quarantines and surveillance. In most regions, insects are the main taxonomic group encountered during inspections. We gathered insect interception data from nine world regions collected from 1995 to 2019 to compare the composition of species arriving at ports in these regions. Collectively, 8,716 insect species were intercepted in these regions over the last 25 yr, with the combined international data set comprising 1,899,573 interception events, of which 863,972 were identified to species level. Rarefaction analysis indicated that interceptions comprise only a small fraction of species present in invasion pathways. Despite differences in inspection methodologies, as well as differences in the composition of import source regions and imported commodities, we found strong positive correlations in species interception frequencies between regions, particularly within the Hemiptera and Thysanoptera. There were also significant differences in species frequencies among insects intercepted in different regions. Nevertheless, integrating interception data among multiple regions would be valuable for estimating invasion risks for insect species with high likelihoods of introduction as well as for identifying rare but potentially damaging species.

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