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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Risk analysis and invasion ecology

Risk analysis and invasion ecology

As part of our work on invasive species, CABI assesses the risks and impacts of biological invasions. We develop risk and impact assessment tools for both plant pests and invasive species in collaboration with many European institutions. The team also looks at ways to mitigate the risks they pose to the environment and the economy.

Our research topics include the use of sentinel plants as tools for commodity risk assessments and for predicting plant pest invasions; ecological impact assessment tools for invasive species; climate modelling for plant pests; and the live plants trade as a pathway for invasive tree pests.

In addition, we carry out fundamental research on invasion ecology. This involves looking at the ecological impacts of invasive insect species, as well as on the mechanisms underlying them. Species we have studied include the horse-chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella), the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), the box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and the spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). 

The team working at CABI in Switzerland is led by Marc Kenis and includes two other researchers, René Eschen and Saidou Nacambo, and several PhD and MSc students, as well as temporary assistants. The team also collaborates closely with the CABI-MoA Joint Laboratory in China.


Marc Kenis

Marc Kenis

Head Risk Analysis and Invasion Ecology


Using insects to improve smallholders’ livestock production and food security in West Africa

Poultry farming is practised by almost all smallholder farmers in West Africa but feed and protein sources are becoming increasingly expensive here, affecting meat and egg production and reducing family income. Fish farmers suffer a similar problem. We are promoting the use of insects, which are a natural food source for poultry and fish, and... >>

Sentinel nurseries as early warning system against alien tree pests

Many of the alien pests and diseases of woody plants were unknown before they were established in new countries. No policy or measures to avoid their introduction and spread were therefore implemented. Recently, monitoring sentinel plants in exporting countries has been proposed as a valuable tool to identify harmful organisms prior to their... >>

Biological control of the Spotted wing Drosophila - Drosophila suzukii

Drosophila suzukii Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilidae), a fruit fly from East Asia, is now a serious economic pest of soft fruits and berries across Europe, the Americas and North Africa. In this project we are focusing on finding natural enemies (parasitoids) of the pest to introduce into Europe. This involves surveys for parasitoids where it... >>

Managing the invasive threat to Europe’s forests

Over the last few decades, European trees and forests have experienced dramatic losses caused by introduced non-native invasive pests and pathogens. As part of an international project, CABI is developing cost-effective and environmentally friendly tools for the prevention, detection and control of the invasive threats to Europe’s forests. >>