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Arthropods: estimating the risks of bioinvasion

Bioinvasions are considered the second cause of species extinction and loss of biodiversity after the destruction of natural habitat. Among invasive species, arthropod pests inflict enormous financial damage and are a threat to forests, agriculture and the health of humans and animals alike.
To improve how arthropod invasion risks are estimated, Martin Godefroid is conducting a PhD at INRA’s Center for Biology and Management of Populations in Montpellier, France entitled (“Estimating the risk of invasion by arthropod quarantine pests and the role of climate, evolutionary history and life history traits”. The research is supervised by Jean-Pierre Rossi and Jean-Yves Rasplus and financed by the Sustainable Management of Crop Health (SMaCH) metaprogramme.

Aire de distribution actuelle du scolyte Tomicus piniperda en Europe déterminée par modélisation de l'enveloppe climatique de cette espèce.. © INRA, Jean-Pierre ROSSI
Updated on 06/28/2013
Published on 04/12/2013

Rapidly expanding international trade will increase the introduction of alien species into different environments in the coming decades. The first step in effectively managing this problem is to anticipate which species may become invasive following introduction. To fight invasive species, tools must be developed which can analyse risk (predict) and effectively identify species (detect). European regulation currently imposes drastic measures when an officially listed quarantine pest is detected. These measures are costly and applied to all species despite the risk of inaccuracy of predictive tools.

The research conducted at the Center for Biology and Management of Populations (CBGP) aims at improving the estimation of the risk of invasion by looking at a species evolutionary history and integrating phylogeographic data into bioclimatic envelope models. Part of Mr Godefroid’s PhD work at the CBGP involves developing new tools and improving existing ones to better predict the risks of invasion by arthropod species appearing on the quarantine list.

The main objectives of the study are to:

  • classify arthropod species according to how likely they are to take root in Europe;
  • assess possible statistical associations between biological properties and estimated risks to identify any history traits which could serve as indicators;
  • determine if potential highly invasive species are phylogenetically related.

Martin Godefroid is an agricultural engineer specialised in crop protection. He has studied various arthropod forest pests in an entomology laboratory in Belgium and studied plant-feeding nematodes in the French West Indies for two years. His thesis will reach an international audience thanks to his participation at the Agreenium International Research School (EIR-A).

UMR1062 CBGP Centre for Biology and Population Management, INRA Research Centre of Montpellier
Jean-Pierre ROSSI
UMR1062 CBGP Centre for Biology and Population Management, INRA Research Centre of Montpellier


EIR-A: a PhD programme of excellence

Agreenium International Research School offers a PhD programme of excellence accredited with the Agreenium label. This programme completes the PhD course provided by the establishment in which the student is enrolled. EIR-A aims to improve the job prospects of doctoral students by raising their awareness of the major challenges facing society at the international level.