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Climate analyses to assess risks from invasive forest insects: Simple matching to advanced models

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Current Forestry Reports


Purpose of Review. The number of invasive alien insects that adversely affect trees and forests continues to increase as do associated ecological, economic, and sociological impacts. Prevention strategies remain the most cost-effective approach to address the issue, but risk management decisions, particularly those affecting international trade, must be supported by scientifically credible pest risk assessments. Pest risk assessments typically include an evaluation of the suitability of the climate for pest establishment within an area of concern. A number of species distribution models have been developed to support those efforts, and these models vary in complexity from simple climate matching to mechanistic models. This review discusses the rationale for species distribution models and describes some common and influential approaches. Recent Findings. Species distribution models that use distributional records and environmental covariates are routinely applied when ecological information about a species of concern is limited, an all-too common situation for pest risk assessors. However, fundamental assumptions of the models may not always hold. Summary. A structured literature review suggests that many common species distribution models are not regularly applied to alien insects that may threaten trees and forests. For ten high-impact alien insect species that are invading North America, MaxEnt and CLIMEX were applied more often than other modeling approaches. Some impediments to model development and publication exist. More applications of species distribution models to forest insects are needed in the peer-reviewed literature to ensure the credibility of pest risk maps for regulatory decision making, to deepen understanding of the factors that dictate species' distributions, and to better characterize uncertainties associated with these models.


Pest risk assessment; Species distribution model; MaxEnt; CLIMEX; Bioclim; Alien insect


Venette, Robert C. 2017. Climate analyses to assess risks from invasive forest insects: Simple matching to advanced models. Current Forestry Reports. 3(3): 255-268.

Last updated on: August 16, 2017