Workshop report: Wildlife pathogens: an overlooked bioinvasion threat

Professor Helen Roy reports on a recent workshop held at our headquarters site in Wallingford, UK

On 18–19 March 2015, 38 experts from 13 European countries with expertise ranging from conservation biology and invasion ecology to wildlife epidemiology and disease management, convened at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (Wallingford, UK) for a horizon scanning workshop. The overarching aim was to advance understanding of alien pathogens threatening wildlife within natural and semi-natural systems.

Horizon scanning, the systematic examination of future potential threats and opportunities, is a useful approach for prioritisation of IAS for management and identification of knowledge gaps. 

Biological invasions are globally recognised as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss; consequently there is increasing attention, through national, regional and global policies, to address the problem of invasive alien species spreading into new regions. The spread of alien pathogens which affect wildlife has received little attention, despite their role important reservoirs of emerging infectious diseases of humans and domestic species and the magnitude of their actual and potential effects on endangered species, ecosystems, and ecosystem services. 

During the workshop there was unanimous acceptance that some invasion events, and particularly epidemiological events, are very difficult to predict; the development of interdisciplinary capacity, expertise and coordination to identify and manage threats was seen as critical. 

One Health initiatives (e.g. www.onehealthinitiative.com) aim to bring an interdisciplinary approach to the health of people, domestic animals and wildlife, but recent work has revealed a far greater emphasis on the first of these, highlighting the need for more integrated approaches that also consider ecological and wildlife conservation concerns. This urgent need must be fully recognized to ensure that the goals set by the Convention on Biological Diversity are achieved.

The workshop was an activity of COST Action TD1209: ALIEN ChallengeCOST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a pan-European intergovernmental framework. Its mission is to enable break-through scientific and technological developments leading to new concepts and products and thereby contribute to strengthening Europe’s research and innovation capacities. 

Workshop participants

Helen E. Roy 1 
Helen Hesketh 1  
Bethan V. Purse 1 
Jørgen Eilenberg 2 
Alberto Santini 3 
Riccardo Scalera 4 
Grant D. Stentiford 5 
Tim Adriaens 6 
Anja Amtoft Wynns 2 
Karolina Bacela-Spychalska 7 
David Bass 5, 8 
Katie Beckmann 9 
Paul Bessell 10 
Jamie Bojko 5, 11 
Olaf Booy 12 
Ana Cristina Cardoso 13 
Franz Essl 14, 15 
Quentin Groom 16 
Colin Harrower 1 
Regina Kleespies 17 
Angeliki F. Martinou 18, 19 
Monique van Oers 20 
Edmund J. Peeler 5 
Jan Pergl 21 
Wolfgang Rabitsch 15 
Alain Roques 22 
Francis Schaffner 23 
Stefan Schindler 14, 15 
Benedikt R. Schmidt 24, 25 
Karsten Schonrogge 1 
Jonathan Smith 26 
Wojciech Solarz 27 
Alan Stewart 28 
Arjan Stroo 29 
Elena Tricarico 30 
Andrea Vannini 31 
Montserrat Vilà 32  
Stephen Woodward 33 
Alison Dunn 11

1 Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, United Kingdom
2 Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
3 Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection - C.N.R., Via Madonna del Piano, 10, I-50019 Sesto fiorentino, Italy
4 IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, Via Valentino Mazzola 38 T2 B 10, I-00142 Roma, Italy
5 Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, United Kingdom
6 Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Kliniekstraat 25, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium
7 Department of Invertebrate Zoology & Hydrobiology, University of Lodz, Banacha 12/16, 90-237 Lodz, Poland
8 Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom
9 Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT, United Kingdom
10 The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland, United Kingdom
11 School of Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom
12 School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
13 European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Environment and Sustainability, (IES), 21027, Italy
14 Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, Division of Conservation, Vegetation and Landscape Ecology, University Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna, Austria
15 Environment Agency Austria, Department of Biodiversity and Nature Conservation, Spittelauer Lände 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria; 
16 Botanic Garden Meise, Domein van Bouchout, B-1860 Meise, Belgium
17 Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Biological Control, Darmstadt, Germany
18, Department of Agriculture Food Science and Biotechnology, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
19 Joint Services Health Unit, BFC RAF Akrotiri BFPO 57, Cyprus; 
20 Laboratory of Virology, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands
21 Institute of Botany, The Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ-252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic
22 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, INRA UR0633, Zoologie Forestière, 2163 Avenue de la Pomme de Pin CS 40001 45075 Orléans, France
23 Avia-GIS, Risschotlei 33, 2980 Zoersel, Belgium
24 Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland; 
25 KARCH, Maximilien-de-Meuron 6, 2000 Neuchatel, Switzerland
26 Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Exotics and Risk Team, Area 5A, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
27 Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Al. Mickiewicza 33, 31-120 Kraków, Poland
28 School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QG
29 Centre for Monitoring of Vectors, Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Geertjesweg 15, 6706 EA, Wageningen, P.O. Box 9102, 6700 HC, Wageningen, The Netherlands
30 Università degli Studi di Firenze, via Romana 17, I-50125 Firenze, Italy
31 DIBAF-University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
32 Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Avda. Américo Vespucio, s/n, Isla de la Cartuja, 41092 Sevilla, Spain
33 Department of Plant and Soil Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK