Canadian Forest Service Publications

There is no silver bullet: the value of diversification in planning invasive species surveillance. 2014. Yemshanov, D.; Koch, F.H.;Lu, B.; Lyons, D.B.; Prestemon, J.P.; Scarr, T.; Koehler, K. Ecological Economics 104:61-72

Year: 2014

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35513

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.024

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Abstract

In this study we demonstrate how the notion of diversification can be used in broad-scale resource allocation for surveillance of invasive species. We consider the problem of short-term surveillance for an invasive species in a geographical environment. We find the optimal allocation of surveillance resources among multiple geographical subdivisions via application of a classical portfolio framework, which allocates investments among multiple financial asset types with uncertain returns in a portfolio that maximizes the performance and, by meeting the desired diversification targets, protects against errors in estimating the portfolio's performance.

We illustrate the approach with a case study that applies a spatial transmission model to assess the risk of spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a significant pest in North America, with infested firewood that may be carried by visitors to campground facilities in central Canada. Adding the diversification objective yields an expected survey performance that is comparable with undiversified optimal allocation, but more importantly, makes the geographical distribution of survey priorities less subject to possible errors in the spread rate estimates. Overall, diversification of pest surveillance can be viewed as a viable short-term strategy for hedging against uncertainty in expert- and model-based assessments of pest invasion risk.

Plain Language Summary

In this study we demonstrate how the notion of diversification can be used in broad-scale resource allocation for surveillance of invasive alien species. We consider the problem of a short-term surveillance campaign for an invasive alien species in a geographically diverse environment when knowledge about the invasive organism is imprecise. We find the optimal allocation of the surveillance resources among multiple geographical subdivisions by using a classical portfolio framework, which allocates investments among multiple financial asset types with uncertain returns in a portfolio that maximizes both the performance and, by minimizing the portfolio variance and meeting the desired portfolio diversification targets, protects against volatility and errors in estimating the portfolio’s performance. We illustrate the approach with a case study that applies a pathway-based spatial pest transmission model to assess the risk of spread of the emerald ash borer, a significant forest pest in North America, with infested firewood that may be carried by visitors to campground facilities in central Canada. Adding the diversification objective yields survey performance that is comparable with undiversified optimal resource allocation, but more importantly, makes the geographical distribution of survey priorities less subject to possible errors in the spread rate estimates. Overall, diversification of pest surveillance can be viewed as a viable short-term strategy for hedging against uncertainty in expert- and model-based assessments of pest invasion risk and the behavior of a new invader.

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