Live plant imports: the major pathway for forest insect and pathogen invasions of the US

 Frasier fir killed by the balsam woolly adelgid NCEAS researchers report in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that almost 70 percent of the most damaging non-native forest insects and diseases currently afflicting U.S. forests arrive via imported live plants. Once introduced, some of these imported insects and disease organisms establish, and a fraction become major economic pests. The authors describe several possible means to increase bio-security, including intensified efforts at plant inspection stations, precautionary measures that restrict plants from entering the U.S. until risks have been assessed, expanding post-entry quarantines, developing better advance knowledge about pest insects and pathogens, and developing integrated systems approaches that depend on expanded partnerships between researchers and industry.

Live plant imports: the major pathway for forest insect and pathogen invasions of the US
Andrew M. Liebhold, Eckehard G. Brockerhoff, Lynn J. Garrett, Jennifer L. Parke, and Kerry O. Britton
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(3), 135-143, 2012

UCSB press release

The following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
New York Times, Green Blog:Who Knows What Bugs Lurk in Imported Plants?

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Posted on April 9, 2012