Development of a pathway model to assess the exposure of European pine trees to pine wood nematode via the trade of wood

J.C. Douma*, W. Van Der Werf, L. Hemerik, C. Magnusson, C. Robinet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Pine wood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is a threat for pine species (Pinus spp.) throughout the world. The nematode is native to North America, and invaded Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan, and more recently Portugal and Spain. PWN enters new areas through trade in wood products. Once established, eradication is not practically feasible. Therefore, preventing entry of PWN into new areas is crucial. Entry risk analysis can assist in targeting management to reduce the probability of entry. Assessing the entry of PWN is challenging due to the complexity of the wood trade and the wood processing chain. In this paper, we develop a pathway model that describes the wood trade and wood processing chain to determine the structure of the entry process. We consider entry of PWN through imported coniferous wood from China, a possible origin of Portuguese populations, to Europe. We show that exposure increased over years due to an increase in imports of sawn wood. From 2000 to 2012, Europe received an estimated 84 PWN propagules from China, 88% of which arose from imported sawn wood and 12% from round wood. The region in Portugal where the PWN was first reported is among those with the highest PWN transfer per unit of imported wood due to a high host cover and vector activity. An estimated 62% of PWN is expected to enter in countries where PWN is not expected to cause the wilt of pine trees because of low summer temperatures (e.g., Belgium, Sweden, Norway). In these countries, PWN is not easily detected, and such countries can thus serve as potential reservoirs of PWN. The model identifies ports and regions with high exposure, which helps targeting monitoring and surveillance, even in areas where wilt disease is not expected to occur. In addition, we show that exposure is most efficiently reduced by additional treatments in the country of origin, and/or import wood from PWN-free zones. Pathway modelling assists plant health managers in analyzing risks along the pathway and planning measures for enhancing biosecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-785
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • biological invasion
  • Bursaphelenchus xylophilus
  • coniferous wood
  • Monochamus
  • pest risk analysis
  • pine wilt disease
  • risk reduction options
  • wood trade


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