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Modelling the Arrival of Invasive Organisms via the International Marine Shipping Network: A Khapra Beetle Study


Species can sometimes spread significant distances beyond their natural dispersal ability by anthropogenic means. International shipping routes and the transport of shipping containers, in particular are a commonly recognised pathway for the introduction of invasive species. Species can gain access to a shipping container and remain inside, hidden and undetected for long periods. Currently, government biosecurity agencies charged with intercepting and removing these invasive species when they arrive to a county’s border only assess the most immediate point of loading in evaluating a shipping container’s risk profile. However, an invasive species could have infested a container previous to this point and travelled undetected before arriving at the border. To assess arrival risk for an invasive species requires analysing the international shipping network in order to identify the most likely source countries and the domestic ports of entry where the species is likely to arrive. We analysed an international shipping network and generated pathway simulations using a first-order Markov chain model to identify possible source ports and countries for the arrival of Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) to Australia. We found Kaohsiung (Taiwan) and Busan (Republic of Korea) to be the most likely sources for Khapra beetle arrival, while the port of Melbourne was the most likely point of entry to Australia. Sensitivity analysis revealed significant stability in the rankings of foreign and Australian ports. This methodology provides a reliable modelling tool to identify and rank possible sources for an invasive species that could arrive at some time in the future. Such model outputs can be used by biosecurity agencies concerned with inspecting incoming shipping containers and wishing to optimise their inspection protocols. 

Paini DR, Yemshanov D (2012) Modelling the Arrival of Invasive Organisms via the International Marine Shipping Network: A Khapra Beetle Study. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44589. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044589 

and correction https://doi.org/10.1371/annotation/9f9b4966-1f98-492c-92bf-7e020ee4c006


  • Trogoderma granarium


Type File Size
Pest Risk Analysis Link to file

PRA Area

  • Australia