Import volumes and biosecurity interventions shape the arrival rate of fungal pathogens

Benjamin A. Sikes, Jennifer L. Bufford, Philip E. Hulme, Jerry A. Cooper, Peter R. Johnston, Richard P. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


Global trade and the movement of people accelerate biological invasions by spreading species worldwide. Biosecurity measures seek to allow trade and passenger movements while preventing incursions that could lead to the establishment of unwanted pests, pathogens, and weeds. However, few data exist to evaluate whether changes in trade volumes, passenger arrivals, and biosecurity measures have altered rates of establishment of nonnative species over time. This is particularly true for pathogens, which pose significant risks to animal and plant health and are consequently a major focus of biosecurity efforts but are difficult to detect. Here, we use a database of all known plant pathogen associations recorded in New Zealand to estimate the rate at which new fungal pathogens arrived and established on 131 economically important plant species over the last 133 years. We show that the annual arrival rate of new fungal pathogens increased from 1880 to about 1980 in parallel with increasing import trade volume but subsequently stabilised despite continued rapid growth in import trade and recent rapid increases in international passenger arrivals. Nevertheless, while pathogen arrival rates for crop and pasture species have declined in recent decades, arrival rates have increased for forestry and fruit tree species. These contrasting trends between production sectors reflect differences in biosecurity effort and suggest that targeted biosecurity can slow pathogen arrival and establishment despite increasing trade and international movement of people.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2006025
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


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