NCEAS Project 3741

Pathways of non-indigenous plant pest introductions: How exotic insects, pathogens and weeds arrive in the United States

  • Deborah G. McCullough
  • Joseph F. Cavey
  • Sarah Reichard

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group25th June—1st July 2001Participant List  
Working Group20th—26th July 2002Participant List  

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Non-indigenous weeds, phytophagous insects and plant pathogens have had dramatic effects on ecosystems in North America and threaten nearly half of all endangered species in the United States. Introductions of non-indigenous species are expected to continue and will likely increase as global trade expands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) is responsible for excluding non-indigenous phytophagous insects, plant pathogens and noxious weeds. Since 1985, APHIS personnel have maintained a database of non-indigenous species detected at ports, border inspection stations and airports. This database, known as the Port Interception Network or "PIN" data, exists on an aging mainframe computer in Maryland. Over 50,000 reports are entered into the PIN database annually. The PIN database, which has not been made available to the public, is unwieldy and queries must be carefully designed to extract appropriate data. APHIS personnel have used the PIN data for internal assessments and training, but intensive and multidisciplinary analysis of these data has not been attempted. Detailed and intensive analysis of the entire PIN database will greatly increase our understanding of precisely how unwanted organisms are entering the United States. In addition, results of our pathway analysis coupled with literature reviews should enable us to evaluate potential patterns or attributes of successful invaders. An interdisciplinary team of entomologists, pathologists, and botanists will analyze the PIN database. Our objectives are to: 1. Summarize historical trends in the groups of plant-feeding insects and related arthropods, plant pathogens and undesirable plants that arrive at the borders of the U.S.; 2. Evaluate potential associations or patterns that involve taxa from two or more groups; e.g. determine whether plant species or commodities are consistently associated with specific arthropod or pathogen introductions; 3. Identify the frequency that specific guilds or taxa arrive and the rate of establishment of members of those groups; 4. Determine whether attributes such as host breadth, size of native range, reproductive rate, mating system, dispersal method or other traits are related to the frequency of introduction or establishment of selected taxa.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Presentations Cavey, Joseph F.; McCullough, Deborah G.; Work, Timothy. 2003. The impracticality of excluding pests by inspection alone. Section E Symposium: Overseas Activity to Protect America from Quarantine Pests, October 2003. Entomological Society of America, National Meeting. Cincinnati, OH.
Journal Article Marshall, David; Work, Timothy; Cavey, Joseph F. 2003. Invasion pathways of karnal bunt of wheat into the United States. Plant Disease. Vol: 87(8). Pages 999-1003. (Abstract)
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G. 2003. Nonindigenous insect species: Can we slow the arrival, survival and thrive-al?. Symposium on Exotic Forest Pests, April 2003. Technological University and Michigan Society of American Foresters. Houghton, MI.
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G. 2004. Invasive pests of forest and shade trees: Can we slow their arrival or impact?. Lawn and Landscape Weed and Insect Management Summit, August 2004. Chicago.
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G. 2005. Arrival of exotic insect pests - what does the future hold?. Michigan Forest Health Workshops, 15-16 March 2005. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, MSU Extension and the Michigan Forest Stewardship Program. Escanaba and Grayling, MI.
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G.; Work, Timothy; Cavey, Joseph F.; Komsa, Ron. 2005. Arrival rate of nonindigenous insect species into the United States through foreign trade. Quantitative Approaches to Understanding Biological Invasions. 16th Annual USDA Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species, January 2005. Annapolis, MD.
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G. 2005. Exotic forest pests: The biggest threat to eastern forests in North America. Ohio Forestry Association Annual Meeting, March 2005. Columbus, OH.
Presentations McCullough, Deborah G. 2005. Pathways of invasion for nonindigenous forest pests. Michigan Forest Health Workshop for State, Federal and Private Foresters, August 2005. Pellston, MI.
Journal Article McCullough, Deborah G.; Work, Timothy; Cavey, Joseph F.; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Marshall, David. 2006. Interceptions of nonindigenous plant pests at U.S. ports of entry and border crossings over a 17 year period. Biological Invasions. Vol: 8. Pages 611-630.
Journal Article Work, Timothy; McCullough, Deborah G.; Cavey, Joseph F.; Komsa, Ron. 2005. Arrival rate of nonindigenous insect species into the United States through foreign trade. Biological Invasions. Vol: 7. Pages 323-332.