Ash dieback is a fungal disease (causal agent Hymenoscyphus fraxineus
) infecting Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior
) throughout temperate Europe. The disease was first discovered in the UK in 2012 in a nursery in Southern England, in plants which had been imported from the Netherlands. After sampling other recently planted sites across England, more infected trees were found. Tree trade from outside and across the UK may have facilitated the spread of invasive diseases which threaten the sustainability of forestry business, ecological niches and amenity landscapes. Detecting a disease in a nursery at an early stage and knowing how likely it is for the disease to have spread further in the plant trade network, can help control an epidemic. Here, we test two simple sampling rules that 1) inform monitoring strategies to detect a disease at an early stage, and 2) inform the decision of tracking forward the disease after its detection. We apply these expressions to the case of ash dieback in the UK and test them in different scenarios after disease introduction. Our results are useful to inform policy makers’ decisions on monitoring for the control and spread of tree diseases through the nursery trade.
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