Stowaway pests provoke international research

Friday, March 21, 2014

Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service are coming together with researchers across the globe to share information about how exotic pests can move and spread, threatening our natural resources.  The International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup (IPRMW) assesses the likelihood of the establishment of potential stowaway pests and their impacts should they spread. 

Frank Koch, a research ecologist with the Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and founding member of IPRMW, develops maps that show possible pathways for invasion when forest pests are unintentionally carried in shipments of wood products and packaging, nursery plants, and even firewood bound for family camping trips. “Forest pests…can dramatically alter the forested landscape, yet often remain poorly understood and difficult to characterize.  A lot of my research involves trying to figure out the role of humans and human behavior in facilitating pest invasions” he says.