Go big or go home: A model-based assessment of general strategies to slow the spread of forest pests via infested firewood
Jentsch PC, Bauch CT, Yemshanov D, Anand M (2020) Go big or go home: A modelbased assessment of general strategies to slow the spread of forest pests via infested firewood. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238979. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pone.0238979
Invasive pests, such as emerald ash borer or Asian longhorn beetle, have been responsible for unprecedented ecological and economic damage in eastern North America. These and other wood-boring invasive insects can spread to new areas through human transport of untreated firewood. Behaviour, such as transport of firewood, is affected not only by immediate material benefits and costs, but also by social forces. Potential approaches to reduce the spread of wood-boring pests through firewood include raising awareness of the problem and increasing the social costs of the damages incurred by transporting firewood. In order to evaluate the efficacy of these measures, we create a coupled social-ecological model of firewood transport, pest spread, and social dynamics, on a geographical network of camper travel between recreational destinations. We also evaluate interventions aimed to slow the spread of invasive pests with untreated firewood, such as inspections at checkpoints to stop the movement of transported firewood and quarantine of high-risk locations. We find that public information and awareness programs can be effective only if the rate of spread of the pest between and within forested areas is slow. Direct intervention via inspections at checkpoints can only be successful if a high proportion of the infested firewood is intercepted. Patch quarantine is only effective if sufficiently many locations can be included in the quarantine and if the quarantine begins early. Our results indicate that the current, relatively low levels of public outreach activities and lack of adequate funding are likely to render inspections, quarantine and public outreach efforts ineffective.
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