Early warning systems as a component of integrated pest management to prevent the introduction of exotic pests.
When introduced to novel habitats, invasive alien plant pests have the potential to reduce fitness or cause aesthetic damage to naïve plant hosts, or to cause widespread mortality in both native and cultivated plant populations. Once established, the cost of mitigation, eradication, and damage and losses from invasive alien plant pests often exceeds the cost of preventing introductions from occurring. National plant protection organizations (NPPOs) have therefore implemented trade restrictions and regulations to minimize the introduction of alien plant pest species. To be effective, NPPOs must stay informed about pest species that may pose a threat to natural or agricultural systems. Early warning systems such as PestLens, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization Reporting Service, and others collect relevant and current plant pest information and disseminate it to NPPOs, thereby facilitating informed regulatory decision-making. Herein, we describe the processes and goals of some of the existing plant pest early warning systems and how these systems may be used.