Look before you treat: increasing the cost effectiveness of eradication programs with aerial surveillance
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Most successful invasive species eradication programs were applied to invasions confined to a small area. Invasions occupying large areas at a low density can potentially be eradicated if individual infestations can be found at affordable cost. The development of low cost aerial surveillance methods allows for larger areas to be monitored but such methods often have lower sensitivity than conventional surveillance methods, making their cost-effectiveness uncertain. Here, we consider the cost-effectiveness of including a new aerial monitoring method in Australia’s largest eradication program, the campaign to eradicate red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). The program previously relied on higher sensitivity ground surveillance and broadcast treatment. The high cost of those methods restricted the total area that could be managed with available resources below the level required to prevent ongoing expansion of the invasion. By increasing the area that can be monitored and thereby improving the targeting of treatment and ground surveillance, we estimate that remote sensing could substantially reduce eradication costs despite the method’s low sensitivity. The development of low cost monitoring methods could potentially lead to substantially improved management of invasive species.
KeywordsAutomated monitoring Cost-effectiveness Broadcast pesticides Spread model Eradication
Funding from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in conjunction with ABARES, and the Centre of Excellence in Biosecurity Risk Analysis is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks to Jonathon Keith for assistance with spread modelling.
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