Integrative analysis of the physical transport network into Australia.

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Cope, R.C., Ross, J.V., Wittmann, T.A. and Cassey, P. (2016) Integrative analysis of the physical transport network into Australia. PLOS ONE 11, e0148831.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0148831


Abstract

Effective biosecurity is necessary to protect nations and their citizens from a variety of threats, including emerging infectious diseases, agricultural or environmental pests and pathogens, and illegal wildlife trade. The physical pathways by which these threats are transported internationally, predominantly shipping and air traffic, have undergone significant growth and changes in spatial distributions in recent decades. An understanding of the specific pathways and donor-traffic hotspots created by this integrated physical transport network is vital for the development of effective biosecurity strategies into the future. In this study, we analysed the physical transport network into Australia over the period 1999–2012. Seaborne and air traffic were weighted to calculate a “weighted cumulative impact” score for each source region worldwide, each year. High risk source regions, and those source regions that underwent substantial changes in risk over the study period, were determined. An overall risk ranking was calculated by integrating across all possible weighting combinations. The source regions having greatest overall physical connectedness with Australia were Singapore, which is a global transport hub, and the North Island of New Zealand, a close regional trading partner with Australia. Both those regions with large amounts of traffic across multiple vectors (e.g., Hong Kong), and those with high levels of traffic of only one type (e.g., Bali, Indonesia with respect to passenger flights), were represented among high risk source regions. These data provide a baseline model for the transport of individuals and commodities against which the effectiveness of biosecurity controls may be assessed, and are a valuable tool in the development of future biosecurity policy.

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