Public contributions to early detection of new invasive pests.
Early detection of new invasive pest incursions enables faster management responses and more successful outcomes. Formal surveillance programs-such as agency-led pest detection surveys-are thus key components of domestic biosecurity programs for managing invasive species. Independent sources of pest detection, such as members of the public and farm operators, also contribute to early detection efforts, but their roles are less understood. To assess the relative contributions of different detection sources, we compiled a novel dataset comprising reported detections of new plant pests in the US from 2010 through 2018 and analyze when, where, how, and by whom pests were first detected. While accounting for uncertainties arising from data limitations, we find that agency-led activities detected 32-56% of new pests, independent sources detected 27-60%, and research/extension detected 8-17%. We highlight the value of independent sources in detecting high impact pests, diverse pest types, and narrowly distributed pests-with contributions comparable with agency-led surveys. However, in the US, independent sources detect a smaller proportion of new pests than in New Zealand. We suggest opportunities to further leverage independent pest detection sources, including by citizen science, landscaping contractors, and members of the public.