Biological invasions, resulting from deliberate and unintentional species transfers of insects, fungal and oomycete organisms, are a major consequence of globalization and pose a significant threat to biodiversity. Limiting damage by non-indigenous forest pathogens requires an understanding of their current and potential distributions, factors affecting disease spread, and development of appropriate management measures. In this review, we synthesize innate characteristics of invading organisms (notably mating system, reproduction type, and dispersal mechanisms) and key factors of the host population (namely host diversity, host connectivity, and host susceptibility) that govern spread and impact of invasive forest pathogens at various scales post-introduction and establishment. We examine spread dynamics for well-known invasive forest pathogens, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus
(T. Kowalski) Baral, Queloz, Hosoya, comb. nov., causing ash dieback in Europe, and Cryphonectria parasitica
, (Murr.) Barr, causing chestnut blight in both North America and Europe, illustrating the importance of host variability (diversity, connectivity, susceptibility) in their invasion success. While alien pathogen entry has proven difficult to control, and new biological introductions are indeed inevitable, elucidating the key processes underlying host variability is crucial for scientists and managers aimed at developing effective strategies to prevent future movement of organisms and preserve intact ecosystems.
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