Biosecurity Research Articles

Linking climate suitability, spread rates and host-impact when estimating the potential costs of invasive pests

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

PLoS One




Moths and butterflies, New Zealand, Pines, Ecological niches, Pest control, Europe, Thermal stresses, Crops


Agricultural Economics | Biosecurity


Biosecurity agencies need robust bioeconomic tools to help inform policy and allocate scarce management resources. They need to estimate the potential for each invasive alien species (IAS) to create negative impacts, so that relative and absolute comparisons can be made. Using pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa sensu lato) as an example, these needs were met by combining species niche modelling, dispersal modelling, host impact and economic modelling. Within its native range (the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent areas), T. pityocampa causes significant defoliation of pines and serious urticating injuries to humans. Such severe impacts overseas have fuelled concerns about its potential impacts, should it be introduced to New Zealand. A stochastic bioeconomic model was used to estimate the impact of PPM invasion in terms of pine production value lost due to a hypothetical invasion of New Zealand by T. pityocampa. The bioeconomic model combines a semi-mechanistic niche model to develop a climate-related damage function, a climate-related forest growth model, and a stochastic spread model to estimate the present value (PV) of an invasion. Simulated invasions indicate that Thaumetopoea pityocampa could reduce New Zealand’s merchantable and total pine stem volume production by 30%, reducing forest production by between NZ$1,550 M to NZ$2,560 M if left untreated. Where T. pityocampa is controlled using aerial application of an insecticide, projected losses in PV were reduced, but still significant (NZ$30 M to NZ$2,210 M). The PV estimates were more sensitive to the efficacy of the spray program than the potential rate of spread of the moth. Our novel bioeconomic method provides a refined means of estimating potential impacts of invasive alien species, taking into account climatic effects on asset values, the potential for pest impacts, and pest spread rates.



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)