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Habitat suitability of Phytophthora palmivora using bioclimatic models

Hossein Ali Narouei-Khandan: Ministry for Primary Industries

<div><em>Phytophthora palmivora</em> is a ubiquitous plant pathogen with major impact on more than 1000 plant species in over 15 plant families, including many economic and environmental important plants. Predictive models which evaluate the risk of the pathogen establishment can be beneficial to regulatory agencies in non-infected areas. Two bioclimatic models, MaxEnt and CLIMEX were used to project the potential distribution of <em>P. palmivora</em> at a global scale and in New Zealand. Long-term climate data (temperature and precipitation) were acquired from the Worldclim website, and global occurrences of the pathogen were gleaned from different sources including online databases and personal communications. The pathogen occurrences in Australia were used as independent data to validate the model. The model projections were a very good fit to the current global distribution of the pathogen. Both models performed well on independent validation data, projecting the currently infested coastal areas in Eastern and Western Australia as highly suitable for pathogen establishment. In New Zealand, where the pathogen is not known to be present, both models projected the climate in North Island as being conducive to pathogen establishment. CLIMEX results indicated that the growth index in the North Island is the highest during January to March and the lowest from June to September. MaxEnt indicated annual mean temperature and precipitation of the wettest quarter as variables contributing the most to pathogen establishment. The results can provide information to alert decision-makers in non-affected areas to the potential need for measures to prevent pathogen entry or to prepare for possible incursions.</div>