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Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) spread and response contingency model - PH0531

Asian hornet is an invasive species in Europe, and is listed as one of the species of most concern to the European Union under EU regulation 1143/2014. The Asian hornet is believed to have been introduced to France during 2004, and has since spread widely, establishing in much of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Research into the climatic range and spread of Asian hornet suggests that the species is potentially suited to the south of the UK, and capable of surviving and spreading here. Asian hornet has had a negative impact on pollinators in continental Europe, and has been shown to be significant predator of the European honey-bee (Apis mellifera).

Experience in France and previous modelling work has demonstrated that early detection and action is essential to the successful control and eradication of Asian hornet and the model proposed here is intended to aid decision makers in planning how much resource to deploy in order to maximise the chances of successful control in an outbreak scenario in the UK.

A key component of this project is to engage with experts on Asian hornet ecology in order to help aid the development and understanding of how the species is likely to spread in the UK, with the aim of quantifying or validating any of the underlying parameters. In order to capture the potential variation in expert input, it is intended to ensure that model parameters are implemented as probability distributions that take into account the highest/lowest estimated values for each parameter.

In addition to the ecological modelling, this project aims to quantify the required effort to achieve successful control in an outbreak, taking into account the locality of the outbreak and variability in the landscape, and the affect that these are likely to have on the time taken to search for Asian hornet nests. Using expert knowledge and experience, different search patterns and levels of detection can be added to this model in an attempt to find the most cost effective and potentially successful methods of control. For example, a number of search strategies can be designed which involve searching the whole landscape for nests, prioritising searches in particular areas, or focusing on apiary locations in order to detect Asian hornet presence/absence in an area. These methods will be built into the model and tested against outbreak scenarios in an attempt to quantify the most cost effective search method.
1) Develop a network of stakeholders who are aware of the model, and able to contribute to the knowledge base used to develop model parameters
2) Using existing field experience (obtaining data from field teams during the 2016 outbreak of Asian hornet in Gloucestershire) and best practice to implement develop parameters and add a detection strategy component within model and aid scenario planning
3) Carry out sensitivity analysis on existing model parameters
4) Carry out stress testing on model to ensure that it is robust and can be used at short notice
5) Present final model to stakeholder groups
6) Provide a fully documented and robust version of the model, with accompanying Standard Operating Procedure, so that it can be fully integrated into the contingency planning for Asian hornet
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2016

To: 2017

Cost: £57,718
Contractor / Funded Organisations
APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency)
Bee Pests              
Fields of Study
Plant Health