Top six on the Richter scale

When the Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment fronted the Senate inquiry hearing in Canberra on 31 October they were asked what are the current priority threats and pathways for invasive species impacting on the environment.

Asian black-spined toad

The Asian black spined toad is rated a ‘top six’ on the Richter scale when it comes to invasive species that have biosecurity scientists particularly worried. Image use courtesy of Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Department of Agriculture’s Rona Mellor replied, ‘There is probably, say, a ‘top six on the Richter scale’ that biosecurity scientists worry about and some of them are particularly invasive to the environment.’ She agreed to provide the top six list after the hearing.

A week later this written answer was posted on the inquiry website:

‘Six invasive species that are of high concern to the department and are considered as threats to the environment include; Didymosphenia geminate (didymo), Phytophthora cinnamomi, (root rot) Mytilopsis sallei (black striped mussel), Pseudogymnoascus destructans (causes white nose syndrome in bats), tramp ants and the Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Asian black spined toad).’

What does this list mean?

This is the first time such a list has been seen by the Invasive Species Council. The top six list begs many more questions than it answers.

How were these priorities chosen?

Why just six? (The agricultural industry has identified 413 priority pests and diseases.)

What do they represent? (Phytophthora cinnamomi is already well established in Australia and a key threatening process so why is it on this list?)

What work is being done to prevent these priorities arriving or establishing in Australia? (Most lack risk assessments and contingency plans.)

More info

Related posts

Rally for Kosci
The view out over Stanwell Park in NSW. Feral deer have been destroying local bushland. Photo: David McKelvey | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Feral deer destroying a lifetime of bushcare conservation
Imported roses and their many petals provide great hiding spots for invasive pests.
The ugly side of flowers
Sally Wayte, a Bushcare volunteer with the Friends of Knocklofty in Hobart, helps clear out gorse from bushland in Knocklofty Reserve. Photo: John Sampson Sally Wayte
More than just pulling weeds: the essential role we all play in biosecurity
Yellow crazy ants – Queensland comes to the party
Kirsha Kaechele has created an intriguing, challening and thought-provoking book about how we deal with invasive species. Photo: Mona Rémi Chauvin, Courtesy Mona Museum of Old and New Art
Eat the problem
Feral pigs caught in a trap in Victoria's far northwest.
Closing the gate on feral pigs in Victoria’s remote northwest
Red-whiskered bulbuls are a serious pest bird that damage fruit crops, spread weeds and compete with native bird species. Photo: Creepanta | CC BY-SA 4.0
Managing new pests in South Australia – what’s new?
NSW audit calls for improved biosecurity responses
Extinction, it's worse than you think