Invasion Risks and Pathways

Preventing the introduction of new and harmful exotic species.


The introduction and spread of new and exotic species beyond their native range can have severe negative environmental consequences, and the drivers of invasion show little sign of abating. In Australia, for example, the recent arrival of the South American Fire Ant (Wylie & Janssen-May 2017) and myrtle rust (Carnegie et al. 2016) are clear examples of the ongoing risk of introduced species. The Fire Ant was introduced to South East Queensland in 2001 (Click here for more), and myrtle rust to NSW in 2010 (Click here for more). There are a number of invasive pathogens and insects that have the potential to significantly damage native biodiversity in Australia and elsewhere (McGeoch et al. 2015; Burgess & Wingfield 2017).

Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii). Picture courtesy of Tim Low.

We are collaborating with the Invasive Species Council to identify future invasion risks and their associated pathways of introduction – for alien insects and plant pathogens of environmental native biodiversity and ecosystems concern.  The project will adopt a comprehensive species by pathways assessment (Wingfield et al. 2015; McGeoch et al. 2016), and develop the structure for an information platform for sustainable ongoing delivery of data to support pre-border risk assessment.

For further information see:

The South American Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta). Copyright, 2000-2009. Licensing: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (cc-by-sa-3.0) Creative Commons License

Project participants: Melodie McGeoch and Dr David Palmer (Monash University), Treena Burgess (Murdoch University), and Andrew Cox and Carol Booth (Invasive Species Council), in collaboration with Helen Roy (NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and Mike Wingfield (Forest and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria)



Burgess, T.I., & Wingfield, M.J. (2017) Pathogens on the Move: A 100-Year Global Experiment with Planted Eucalypts. BioScience, 67, 14-25.

Carnegie, A.J., Kathuria, A., Pegg, G.S., Entwistle, P., Nagel, M. & Giblin, F.R. (2016) Impact of the invasive rust Puccinia psidii (myrtle rust) on native Myrtaceae in natural ecosystems in Australia. Biological Invasions, 18, 127-144.

McGeoch, M.A., Genovesi, P., Bellingham, P.J., Costello, M.J., McGrannachan, C. & Sheppard, A. (2016) Prioritizing species, pathways, and sites to achieve conservation targets for biological invasion. Biological Invasions, 18, 299-314.

McGeoch, M.A., Lythe, M.J., Henriksen, M.V. & McGrannachan, C.M. (2015) Environmental impact classification for alien insects: a review of mechanisms and their biodiversity outcomes. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 12, 46-53.

Wingfield, M.J., Brockerhoff, E.G., Wingfield, B.D., & Slippers, B. (2015) Planted forest health: The need for a global strategy. Science, 349, 832-836.

Wylie, F.R. & Janssen-May, S. (2017) Red Imported Fire Ant in Australia: What if we lose the war? Ecological Management and Restoration, 18, 32-44.