Optimizing surveillance strategies for early detection of invasive alien species.
Surveillance programs to detect alien invasive pests seek to find them as soon as possible, but also to minimize the cost of damage from invasion. To examine the trade-offs between these objectives, we developed an economic model that allocates survey sites to minimize either the expected mitigation costs or the expected time until first detection of an invasive alien pest subject to a budget constraint on surveillance costs. We also examined strategies preferred by ambiguity-averse decision makers that minimize the expected and worst-case outcomes of each performance measure. We applied the model to the problem of detecting Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, one of the most harmful invasive alien insects in North America. When minimizing expected mitigation costs or expected time to detection, the trade-off between these survey objectives was small. Strategies that minimize the worst-case mitigation costs differed sharply and surveyed sites with high host densities using high sampling intensities whereas strategies that minimize the worst detection times surveyed sites across the entire area using low sampling intensities. Our results suggest that preferences for minimizing mitigation costs or time to detection are more consequential for ambiguity-averse managers than they are for risk-neutral decision-makers.