Saturday, 6 March 2010

Global Biosecurity 2010

I attended Global Biosecurity 2010 last week in Brisbane, Australia...
The conference began with two good overview plenary talks on Biosecurity issues in Australia and the US, preceded by an opening speech by CSIRO's own CEO Megan Clark.
I noted the US has some good online systems for pests and diseases, which I believe Australia will be shortly linking information to. These include EPICA, which underpins the Global Pests and Disease Database along with Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS).

It was good see Dr Roman Carrasco give a talk, since we were students together not so long ago at CSL. He has developed an interesting model of multi-species long distance dispersal, shortly to be published:
Comprehensive bioeconomic modelling of multiple harmful non-indigenous species L.R. Carrasco, J.D. Mumford, A. MacLeod, J.D. Knight, R.H.A. Baker Research Article, in press 2010 (available online) | doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.02.001

There has been some large-scale agent-based modelling work on the CSIRO Global Integrated Assessment Model (a multi-model project), using the CSIRO epidemiological modeling and simulation system, called EpiCast, presented by Dr David Newth and Dr Don Gunasekera, Senior Economist. This is a model of Dengue transmission in communities, which is particularly affected by water management (rain water tank hygeine) and climate change.

Of particular interest to my post-doc was the work of PhD student Craig Feutrill who has altered his research project to now focus on the same species of aphid as me: R. padi. He has some very useful data collected from a number of suction traps he built around Australia.

A couple of useful platforms for sharing ideas, discussions, models, maps and data I came across at the conference are:
    A US-based system presented by Dr Roger Magarey of USDA/North Carolina State University
  • The Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN) - I am hoping this may be a better host site for the CRC Dispersal Modelling network I established a few months ago that hasn't really taken off as well as initially hoped.
The University of Western Australia seems to be building an even stronger group of dispersal modellers who were great to interact with and listen to some of them give talks. These include Dr Michael Renton, Dr James Bennett, Dr Rohan Sadler and David Savage.

There was plenty of modellers and modelling present at the conference, and I enjoyed a talk on the general importance and role of models in biosecurity by Dr David Jordan of NSW DPI. He highlighted the importance of models to the management of very large issues and their role in bringing together multiple disciplines, calling modelling 'a tool for organised collaboration'. Three cheers for modellers!

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