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Is Eradication of the Pinewood Nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) Likely? An Evaluation of Current Contingency Plans


Address correspondence to Bjørn Økland, Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, P.O.Box 115, NO-1431, Ås, Norway;


The pinewood nematode (PWN) is one of the worst tree-killing exotic pests in East-Asian countries. The first European record of establishment in Portugal in 1999 triggered extensive surveys and contingency plans for eradication in European countries, including immediate removal of large areas of conifer host trees. Using Norway as an example, we applied a simulation model to evaluate the chance of successful eradication of a hypothetical introduction by the current contingency plan in a northern area where wilting symptoms are not expected to occur. Despite a highly variable spread of nematode infestations in space and time, the probability of successful eradication in 20 years was consistently low (mean 0.035, SE 0.02). The low success did not change significantly by varying the biological parameters in sensitivity analyses (SA), probably due to the late detection of infestations by the survey (mean 14.3 years). SA revealed a strong influence of management parameters. However, a high probability of eradication required unrealistic measures: achieving an eradication probability of 0.99 in 20 years required 10,000 survey samples per year and a host tree removal radius of 8,000 m around each detection point.