A web of intrigue | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

A web of intrigue

Bioheritage looks for predictability in the spread of weeds, pest and pathogens - if you can predict spread then you may be able to prevent it.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016

One of the government’s National Science Challenges is called “New Zealand’s Biological Heritage” or just Bioheritage. It is about biodiversity and biosecurity.

One of the things that Bioheritage is looking at is biosecurity network intervention. Hey, pay attention as I can feel you nodding off.

Stopping it before it starts

What it is about is trying to work out if weeds, pest and pathogens spread in any predictable way – like a spider web or in network fashion. If you can predict spread then there is a chance to prevent it.
Velvet leaf in fodder beet cropVelvet leaf (Abutilon theophrasti) in a fodder beet crop [via Beef +Lamb New Zealand]

Beef + Lamb New Zealand went to a workshop a few weeks ago to look at how people accidentally help to spread them. The goal of the research is to describe the networks and model them. Then to armed with this knowledge to either contain or slow the spread of pests.

What we need to know

Some of the questions that will be investigated are:

  • Do different networks have specific characteristics help to spread pest and does understanding this help identify where interventions could be applied?
  • Is there any relationship between how a pest spreads through a network and the likelihood of establishment at a node?
  • When networks span across management boundaries, like regional government boundaries, is it possible to know a coordinated multi-stakeholder response is required?
  • How will the number and distribution of nodes change over time, and what are the consequences for spread of a pest?
  • How can an understanding of networks help focus surveillance efforts?

The research team will develop a work plan over the next year, using feedback from this workshop and other end-users. Beef + Lamb New Zealand is planning to stay involved with the project and assist it where possible.