Aim To develop a surveillance support model that enables prediction of areas susceptible to invasion, comparative analysis of surveillance methods and intensity and assessment of eradication feasibility. To apply the model to identify surveillance protocols for generalized invasion scenarios and for evaluating surveillance and control for a context-specific plant invasion.
Methods We integrate a spatially explicit simulation model, including plant demography and dispersal vectors, within a Geographical Information System. We use the model to identify effective surveillance protocols using simulations of generalized plant life-forms spreading via different dispersal mechanisms in real landscapes. We then parameterize the surveillance support model for Chilean needle grass [CNG; Nassella neesiana (Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth], a highly invasive tussock grass, which is an eradication target in south-eastern Queensland, Australia.
Results General surveillance protocols that can guide rapid response surveillance were identified; suitable habitat that is susceptible to invasion through particular dispersal syndromes should be targeted for surveillance using an adaptive seek-and-destroy method. The search radius of the adaptive method should be based on maximum expected dispersal distances. Protocols were used to define a surveillance strategy for CNG, but simulations indicated that despite effective and targeted surveillance, eradication is implausible at current intensities.
Main conclusions Several important surveillance protocols emerged and simulations indicated that effectiveness can be increased if they are followed in rapid response surveillance. If sufficient data are available, the surveillance support model should be parameterized to target areas susceptible to invasion and determine whether surveillance is effective and eradication is feasible. We discovered that for CNG, regardless of a carefully designed surveillance strategy, eradication is implausible at current intensities of surveillance and control and these efforts should be doubled if they are to be successful. This is crucial information in the face of environmentally and economically damaging invasive species and large, expensive and potentially ineffective control programmes.