Optimal invasive species surveillance in the real world: practical advances from research
When alien species make incursions into novel environments, early detection through surveillance is critical to minimizing their impacts and preserving the possibility of timely eradication. However, incipient populations can be difficult to detect, and usually, there are limited resources for surveillance or other response activities. Modern optimization techniques enable surveillance planning that accounts for the biology and expected behavior of an invasive species while exploring multiple scenarios to identify the most cost-effective options. Nevertheless, most optimization models omit some real-world limitations faced by practitioners during multi-day surveillance campaigns, such as daily working time constraints, the time and cost to access survey sites and personnel work schedules. Consequently, surveillance managers must rely on their own judgments to handle these logistical details, and default to their experience during implementation. This is sensible, but their decisions may fail to address all relevant factors and may not be cost-effective. A better planning strategy is to determine optimal routing to survey sites while accounting for common daily logistical constraints. Adding site access and other logistical constraints imposes restrictions on the scope and extent of the surveillance effort, yielding costlier but more realistic expectations of the surveillance outcomes than in a theoretical planning case.