Protecting vulnerable ecosystems is a hard and not always successful work. Australia is one of such systems, which is so unique that any kind of invasive species may disrupt it tragically. Now scientists from the University of Adelaide developed a model, which describes the pathways how invasive animals are transported into Australia and how effective the biosecurity activities managing these routes are.
To begin with, scientists found that stowaway frogs are being stopped effectively by strict biosecurity measures at borders and within the country. The risk of introduction of new diseases, related with stowaway frogs, has been reduced by 50%, which is an amazing achievement as it has been predicted that such invasion could devastate local wildlife. This new model can evaluate the efforts of keeping invasive species away – it analyses the capacity of Australian border and post-border biosecurity actions, turned against renaviruses, which otherwise could enter Australia.
Scientists note that introduction of such viruses usually have horrible consequences to amphibians. Pablo García-Díaz, lead author of the study, said: “We’ve already seen the example of the introduction to Australia of the fungi Batrachochytrium dentrobatidis, which has been implicated in the extinction of six native frog species and population declines of several others. We were concerned that the increasing volume of goods being moved worldwide would result in the introduction of new emerging wildlife diseases”.
Unsurprisingly, scientists say that the number of arriving alien frogs and other amphibians as stowaways increases as the international trade gets more intensive. However, governments do have ways to address such risks, by introducing biosecurity measures at borders and inside the countries. Scientists say that such biosecurity activities should be intensified as international trade and travelling increases.
It is not hard to imagine how frogs or other small animals can be unintentionally introduced to the wildlife of Australia. However, there are ways to avoid that and, as this research showed, these methods are effective.