Some of you may be interested in a new island record for Guam: the Pacific orange leafwing butterfly, Doleschallia tongana, discovered by my student, Jake Manuel, and identified by Don Buden, College of Micronesia, Pohnpei, and John Tennent, Natural History Museum, London. This is considered to be an invasive species because there is a record of its caterpillars feeding on breadfruit.
This is an unusual case because:
We were able to overcome the taxonomic impediment and got an authoratative species determination.
We were able to document detection of this invasive species in the scientific literature, in the open access journal F1000Research at https://f1000research.com/articles/7-366/v1. Please click on the link to see the article including images.
While working in as an entomologist in Micronesia for almost 30 years, I have learned that only a small percentage of newly arrived insects get identified, including those intercepted during biosecurity inspections. And only a small percentage of reliably identified species are documented as new island records in the scientific literature. Most newly arrived invasive species do not get into the global databases which harvest data from the scientific literature. Thus the arrival rate of invasive species on the smaller Pacific islands is grossly under-reported when compared to larger islands and continental areas.
I have been looking for ways to reduce the time and effort involved in getting new island records into the scientific literature and the advent of online open access journals offers some hope. The F1000Research journal seems to be well suited to this use case. Submitted articles are put online within a week and an open peer review is done online by invited peer reviewers. Each article requires 2 positive reviews to be classified as “peer reviewed”.
We need one more peer review for the Pacific orange leafwing article. Any volunteers? If you are interested, please email me your name and affiliation and I will send these along to the editor.
All the Best,
Aubrey Moore PhD
University of Guam
Thanks to Aubrey and Bob for the important issues they highlighted. I agree that Crop Protection and other agricultural disciplines in the Pacific islands would greatly benefit if field staff do some of the needed research and write them up. Good idea but how are we going to make this work? Bob has accidentally hinted on the solution when he mentioned that in his experience "there are few staff who would have the interest, ability and/or the confidence to submit such an article" and "there have been few in the 40+ years [he has] been exposed to regional plant protection unless pushed by a university tutor for qualification reasons."
I suggest that PestNet and similar networks consider getting involved in organizing/providing training and supervision in research and publication and offering certificates (undergraduate and postgraduate certificates) - and also look for money to fund the activity..
Cooperative Research & Extension Division
College of Micronesia-FSM
Sorry for the slow response. Your message raised several issues near to my heart.
1. New pest incursions in small Pacific island countries are grossly under-reported (especially if their effects are not alarming) in part for the reasons you mention including: weak national collections, expensive identification charges offshore, a significant lack of interest in apparently academic issues and an unwillingness to comply with IPPC pest reporting requirements (some are worried that this will put them at a trade negotiating disadvantage whereas the reverse is actually true). I don't have a quick answer to these problems but they do need to be addressed.
2. I like the idea of putting articles online and would be happy to help where I can but even that is a step too far for most countries. In my experience there are few staff who would have the interest, ability and/or the confidence to submit such an article. Certainly there have been few in the 40+ years I have been exposed to regional plant protection unless pushed by a university tutor for qualification reasons.
3. All this means that the survey data done in the 70s, 80s and 90s for most Pacific countries is now likely woefully out of date and will have to be updated if countries want to get into Import Risk Analysis negotiations to export crops. If not then importing countries will simply not believe exporting country pest lists. Once again I have no solution to offer except spending a lot of someone else’s money.
4. Do you have any thoughts on how the insect in the paper got into Guam. Could it possibly be related to the Pacific Arts festival that Guam recently hosted. I know quarantine measures were in place but they can never be 100% and that is one of the ideas here of how CRB-G got here. I don’t want to stop the arts festivals but we are about to host a Melanesian Arts festival in July this year and am alarmed at the prospect of more pests arriving as a result.
Those are just a few thoughts and will be happy if even some of them provoke a discussion.
PO Box 193
Gizo, Solomon Islands
Phone +677 7135649
Skype name: Scapanes
Allow me to make some comments to your email from Aubrey. With regards to Pacific Arts Festival I agree with you that there is a very high risk to transport pests around the Pacific island countries. I was in Palau during the festival helping Quarantine, it was impossible to inspect everything and provide appropriate treatment. The volume of high risk items was enormous and most countries do not have treatment facilities. In Palau we had a small fumigation chamber and we were not able to fumigate everything in time.
With regards to pest surveys and pest information, I thought SPC is conducting pest surveys and keeping pest lists which can be used for Import Risk Assessment.