Validating and refining risk-assessment models

Project Leader: Dr Mary Bomford, Bureau of Rural Sciences

Aim: To develop validated risk models to enable more accurate border and post-border risk assessment.

Projects: 9.d.1

Project summary

The goal of this project is to establish a validated system to assess and prioritise the risk of establishment and pest potential for invasive animals existing in Australia, and those that could potentially be imported.

This project has four main components:

  • developing risk assessment models for exotic vertebrates (Bureau of Rural Sciences, BRS)
  • validating these models and assessing a wide range of exotic animal species (Department of Agriculture and Food WA)
  • developing web-enabled software for climate matching for use in risk assessments (BRS)
  • a workshop to review government risk assessment processes for the import and keeping of exotic vertebrates in Australia.

The Bomford risk assessment models have been developed. DAFWA’s risk assessments further explore the ability of these models to predict public safety, establishment and pest risks across a full range of species and risk levels. The variety of species include animals that have not yet entered Australia, animals currently kept in Australia as pets, livestock or in zoos, and animals that are already widely established in the wild here. Livestock species assessed were chital, red and fallow deer, domestic sheep and ostrich.

Key achievements

  • Mary Bomford’s models for establishment of exotic vertebrates were developed and published by the IA CRC.
  • DAFWA’s risk assessments have been officially endorsed by the VPC. A number of state agencies have specifically requested the assessments for use in policy development or legal prosecutions. The red-eared slider assessment was recently used in the successful prosecution of a pet shop owner in South Australia.
  • CLIMATCH, a web-based version of the CLIMATE software, was produced to enable access by state, national and international experts, thereby increasing the consistency and transparency of risk assessments for invasive animals and other pests. The software predicts the likely range of an exotic species using a simple matching algorithm to compare the climate in known locations with that in an invaded country.
  • A national workshop was held in February 2009 in Canberra. Recommendations included an improved system for regulating the import and keeping of exotic animals in Australia, to ensure we are adequately protected from new pest incursions.
  • A final report assessing risks of 40 exotic vertebrate species has been published.

Project team

Dr Mary Bomford, Dr Greg Hood and Joe Crombie (BRS), Marion Massam, Win Kirkpatrick and Amanda Page (DAFWA) and Dr Wendy Henderson (IA CRC).

Project partners

IA CRC, Bureau of Rural Sciences, University of Canberra, Department of Agriculture and Food WA.

Further information

Bomford M (2009) Risk assessment models for establishment of exotic vertebrates in Australia and New Zealand, Invasive Animals CRC, Canberra.
An interface for running climate-matching algorithms.

Henderson WR (2009) Workshop Proceedings: Risk assessment processes for import and keeping of exotic vertebrates in Australia. 25-26 February 2009, Canberra. Invasive Animals CRC, Canberra

Massam M, Kirkpatrick W and Page A (2010). Assessment and prioritisation of risk for forty introduced animal species. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Canberra

For further information, contact us.

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