IPRRG Webinar Series

Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we haven’t enjoyed many chances to engage as a group. Although virtual events aren’t a perfect replacement for in-person engagement, they are still a useful way to share and communicate ideas. So, we are pleased to offer the IPRRG Webinar Series!

We intend to have webinars as often as possible throughout 2021 (and hopefully well into 2022!). The presentations will cover an array of topics related to pest risk modelling and analysis. The time slots for each webinar will vary to best accommodate the speakers. As we solidify the slate of upcoming presenters, we will post additional details to this page.

We’re webcasting each presentation with the help of CSIRO Information Management & Technology. *Each webcast can be accessed at the scheduled time using the LIVE WEBCAST LINK in the table below.* Anyone can access the webcast via this link (i.e., you don’t have to be a registered IPRRG member to attend the webinar). A version recorded by CSIRO will be accessible shortly after the conclusion of the live presentation. In addition, we’ll have another recorded version available indefinitely from the IPRRG YouTube channel. Links to each of the YouTube recordings are provided in the table, or you can visit our channel to see all of them.

We are excited to provide this opportunity to the pest risk community! Please feel free to share the news (and the URL for this page) widely. Our goal is have a large audience for each of our presenters.

If you have any questions or are interested in presenting your own webinar, please contact Frank Koch, IPRRG Communications Officer (frank.h.koch “AT” usda.gov).


PresenterDate / TimeTitleLinks
Darren Kriticos, CSIRO (Australia)Jan 28, 2021 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM AEDT
(Jan 27, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST US/CAN; 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM GMT; 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM CET)
IPRRG Webinar Series and Pest Risk Model DatabaseWebcast recording: https://webcast.csiro.au/#/webcasts/iprrg1

YouTube recording:
Matthew Everatt, Defra (UK)Feb 25, 2021 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM AEDT
(Feb 24, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST US/CAN; 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM GMT; 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM CET)
Risk Assessment for Biological Control ReleasesWebcast recording:

YouTube recording:
Katherine O’Donnell, Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Charles Lane and Chris Malumphy, Fera Science LtdMar 17, 2021 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM AEDT
(Mar 17, 5:00 AM – 6:00 AM EDT US/CAN; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM GMT; 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CET)
The International Plant Sentinel NetworkWebcast recording:

YouTube recording:
Tania Yonow, CSIRO (Australia)April 30, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM AEST
(April 30, 4:00 AM – 5:00 AM EDT US/CAN; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM BST; 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CEST)
Accidental Pre-emptive Biocontrol for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug?Webcast recording:

YouTube recording:
Andrew Robinson, University of Melbourne (Australia)May 28, 2021 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM AEST
(May 27, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT US/CAN; 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM BST; May 28, 12:00 AM – 1:00 AM CEST)
Context Is Everything: Sampling for Area FreedomWebcast recording:

YouTube recording link:
Catriona Duffy, Maynooth University (Ireland)June 23, 2021 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM AEST
(June 23, 3:00 AM – 4:00 AM EDT US/CAN; 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM BST; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM CEST)
Using Hierarchical Clustering to Identify High Risk Pests to Sitka SpruceWebcast recording:

YouTube recording link:
Debbie Hemming, Met Office (UK)July 29, 2021 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM AEST
(July 29, 3:30 AM – 4:30 AM EDT US/CAN; 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM BST; 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM CEST)
Integrating Microclimate Models into Pest Risk AnalysisWebcast recording:

YouTube recording link:
Ruan C. de M. Oliviera, Universidade Federal do Ceará (Brazil)August 26, 2021 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM AEST
(August 25, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT US/CAN; 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Brasilia; 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM BST)
Current and Future Potential Distributions of Helicoverpa punctigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): Is This the Next FAW?Webcast recording:

YouTube recording link:
Melanie Newfield (New Zealand)Nov 5, 2021 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM AEDT
(Nov 5, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Wellington;
Nov 4, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT US/CAN; 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM CET)
The Use of Risk Assessment and Decision Making in the Biosecurity SystemWebcast recording:

YouTube recording link:


IPRRG Webinar #1: Darren Kriticos

IPRRG Webinar Series and Pest Risk Model Database

Pest risk models have become key instruments in global biosecurity, helping to identify areas at risk of invasion by harmful alien organisms. The ability to discover and access pre-existing models is critical to ensure that the global biosecurity system operates efficiently and effectively. The development of pest risk modelling methods, particularly in a geographical context, has centred on collaborations between scientific researchers and pest risk management agencies. Most early pest risk models (and maps) were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which provided a degree of quality assurance and discoverability, at least in academic circles.  As the technology has matured and some biosecurity agencies have built in-house pest risk modelling capability, it is likely that a large share of recent modelling efforts have gone unpublished or ended up in “grey” literature, where they are far less accessible and discoverable. Undoubtedly, this can lead to global inefficiency as models are recreated for the same species. Most of these risk models are based on bioclimatic models, and most of them are global, or can be applied globally. Consequently, while they may be developed with the intention of identifying the risks in one region, they may be valuable for identifying risks to other jurisdictions.  This offers the potential for developed models to be used by biosecurity agencies that may not have the resources to develop their own models. To tackle these issues, IPRRG has developed an online database of pest risk models. The database is intended to support crowdsourcing of entries.  In this presentation, Darren explains the motivation to develop the database, demonstrates its operation and comments on the value of the platform for PRA praxis, and outlines some ongoing issues.

IPRRG Webinar #2: Matthew Everatt

Risk Assessment for Biological Control Releases

Until recently, invertebrate biological control agents (IBCAs) were unregulated in Europe, under the assumption that they had little or no impact on the environment. However, towards the end of the 20th century, perceptions were beginning to change and there was an increasing concern that IBCAs may cause harm to the environment and to non-target organisms. The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, which was released into France in the 1990s without assessment, is a case in point; although beneficial in killing aphid pests, the harlequin ladybird harbours a number of negative traits, such as feeding on non-target organisms. If a risk assessment had been carried out, it is highly likely that its release would not have been allowed.

In 1996, the International Organisation for Biological and Integrated Control (IOBC) and the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) established a panel, which provided guidance on the import and release of IBCAs. This was followed by CHIBCA and the EU funded REBECA project, which reviewed previous recommendations and guidelines, and engaged with industry, regulators and scientists to produce coordinated guidelines for Europe.

Defra has used these guidelines to establish a regulatory framework for England. Licences are granted for invertebrate non-native species to be used as augmentative and classical biological control agents. For new species that have not previously been released in England, a risk assessment is required to ensure the species are safe and fit for purpose. This assessment covers establishment potential, host specificity, dispersal and impacts. While some other European countries have a similar regulatory framework, there are a number that differ, making it more difficult to release weed biocontrols across Europe. There are also some countries that do not have any regulation at all, leaving countries with regulation susceptible to incursion from risky IBCAs. A more harmonised system across Europe is therefore recommended.

IPRRG Webinar #3: Katherine O’Donnell, Charles Lane and Chris Malumphy

The International Plant Sentinel Network

The International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) consists of botanic gardens & arboreta, National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPO’s) and plant-health scientists who collaborate to provide an early-warning system for new and emerging plant pests and diseases.

Botanic gardens and arboreta are unique and under-utilised resources that can support sentinel research. Plant collections are estimated to include 30–40% of all known plant species, many of which are exotic species (and thus potential sentinel plants). Sentinel plants are individuals found outside their native ranges that can be surveyed for damage by organisms they would not otherwise encounter.

The IPSN also focuses on increasing knowledge and awareness, gathering evidence for pest risk analysis, seeking best practice, developing standardised approaches and providing training materials and methodologies for monitoring and surveying. Established as part of a European-funded (EUPHRESCO) project the IPSN is coordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and supported by the UK’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).

IPRRG Webinar #4: Tania Yonow

Accidental Pre-emptive Biocontrol for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug?

The brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) is a familiar topic for IPRRG, resulting in ‘Project Stinky’. This project had several facets, including understanding the potential distribution and impact of H. halys.The difficulties in managing this important horticultural pest has spawned interest in biological control programs. A critical question in classical biological control is the degree of overlap in the potential distributions of the agent and the target. This question can be addressed in part using pest risk assessment tools. This presentation describes work conducted to examine the niche overlap of two wasp parasitoids of H. halys, with particular interest in their potential distribution in Australia. One of the wasps, Trissolcus mitsukurii, was introduced to Australia in 1962 to control the green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula). One of our questions was the degree to which this wasp might play a role in controlling H. halys (if/when) it becomes established there. We began by examining the potential distribution of T. mitsukurii, which currently occurs in Asia (native range) and Australia and Italy (invaded ranges). We attempted some novel analyses with the CLIMEX Match Climates program to specifically account for the use of irrigation in agriculture, and then used the more standard CLIMEX Compare Locations program. Once we had the Compare Locations model for T. mitsukurii, we applied the same irrigation scenario to existing CLIMEX models for both H. halys and the second key parasitoid, Trissolcus japonicus, and examined the range overlaps of the three species. All species are projected to expand their current ranges, with sympatric ranges in most invaded regions. Trissolcus japonicus has recently been shown to be polyphagous, but nonetheless has been approved for release in New Zealand should H. halys become established there. While it is unlikely to be approved for intentional release in Australia, it is also highly invasive and will likely spread to Australia unassisted. This suggests that both Trissolcus species should be able to help mitigate the impacts of H. halys as it spreads, and is supported by recent work in Italy and Switzerland, showing the concurrent spread of both T. mitsukurii and T. japonicus alongside that of H. halys.

IPRRG Webinar #5: Andrew Robinson

Context Is Everything: Sampling for Area Freedom

ISPM 31 prescribes an approach to sampling for proof of freedom that is based on specifying a probability that the pest will be detected if it is present at a nominated prevalence. However, the approach provides no insight as to how the probability or prevalence should be set. We assert that agencies should seek to minimise the net expected costs of surveillance and the expected damages that would occur, should the pest still be present. By wrapping the existing approach in an economic framework, we can shed light on the implications of different choices from the point of view of making decisions. We illustrate the method’s implementation using information contained in two historical proof of freedom proposals conducted in Queensland for cocoa pod borer (Conopomorpha cramerella) and citrus canker (Xanthomonas axonopodis), and contrast the differences in the required levels of effort.

IPRRG Webinar #6: Catriona Duffy

Using Hierarchical Clustering to Identify High Risk Pests to Sitka Spruce

The presence of a species within a specific region indicates that suitable biotic and abiotic conditions exist for that pest. Therefore, grouping regions based on a species’ presence or absence indicates a level of similarity of those same conditions. This is the fundamental assumption underpinning the application of hierarchical clustering to assemblages of pests of Sitka spruce in order to identify high risk pests to Ireland. A region’s pest assemblage is the result of a multitude of complex biotic (e.g. host) and abiotic (e.g. climatic) factors within that area and that these pest profiles act as a proxy for these factors when attempting to group ‘like’ pest organisms together. Presence/absence data for 1000 pests across 386 regions globally were clustered based on their similarity of pest assemblages, to provide an objective examination of the highest risk pests to Irish forestry. Outputs from the analysis suggest that the highest risk pests to Ireland’s Sitka spruce plantations will originate from within Europe. This approach is useful from a ‘horizon scanning’ and resources perspective, as it aids in identifying pests for further detailed analysis using Pest Risk Analysis (PRA).

IPRRG Webinar #7: Debbie Hemming

Integrating Microclimate Models into Pest Risk Analysis

The UK Met Office and University of Exeter have been collaborating closely with the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) Plant Risk and Horizon Scanning team to improve the use of climate data and climate modelling for informing UK pest risk assessment. We present a brief overview of this work and highlight recent microclimate modelling efforts to better understand the climate at locations relevant for pest life-cycle development.

IPRRG Webinar #8: Ruan C. de M. Oliviera

Current and Future Potential Distributions of Helicoverpa punctigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): Is This the Next FAW?

Helicoverpa punctigera (Wallengren), the native budworm, is an important highly-polyphagous pest that has caused serious damage on a wide variety of crops in Australia. In Australia, its range overlaps that of its congener, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), a notorious invasive pest globally. We used CLIMEX, a bioclimatic niche modelling software package, to estimate the potential geographical distribution of H. punctigera under current and future climates (A1B scenario). Under both current and future climate conditions, the model indicates that H. punctigera could establish throughout the tropics and subtropics. Comparing the potential distributions under each climate scenario revealed that in the future its potential distribution is likely to shift poleward and into higher altitudes, into areas that are currently too cold as observed in the South of Brazil, Europe, North America, South East Asia, and South Pacific Islands including New Zealand. The projected potential distribution can inform pre- and post-border biosecurity strategies for the management of this pest in each country.

IPRRG Webinar #9: Melanie Newfield

The Use of Risk Assessment and Decision Making in the Biosecurity System

  • The research programme “He Tangata, He Taiao, He Ōhanga” (translated as “the people, the environment, the economic”) aims to develop a new biosecurity risk assessment framework that incorporates information from a holistic set of values.
  • Before researchers developed a new framework, I reviewed literature and spoke to decision makers to determine what frameworks, models and tools are already available to support risk assessment and decision making in the biosecurity system. I also looked more generally at decision makers’ attitudes towards risk assessment.
  • While there are many frameworks, models and tools for both risk assessment and decision making, I found that they are not widely used for biosecurity decision making.
  • Many published frameworks for risk assessment and decision making are developed for specific purposes or to answer specific questions and can’t be adopted for other purposes without modification. Some of the stated reasons that frameworks aren’t used are similar to reasons that models weren’t used to make decisions in conservation.
  • For the decision makers I spoke to in the study, trust is central to the worth that they place on risk assessment, particularly trust in the people doing risk assessments. Rather than some decision makers trusting risk assessors and some decision makers not trusting them, the majority of decision makers trusted some risk assessors and not others.
  • The design of frameworks, models and tools needs to address more than just developing tools. The design also needs to consider those who will directly use the framework (for example, risk assessors), and those who will use the results of that framework (for example, decision makers who make decisions based on risk assessment). In particular, the framework needs to be developed in a way that builds trust between those developing the framework and those using the framework.