The National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases

The National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases (the Priority List), released in November 2020, delivers on a key recommendation of the 2017 ‘Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system’ report to strengthen environmental biosecurity and develop a national approach to address risks to Australia’s environment.

The Priority List identifies exotic pests, weeds and diseases that are not established in Australia and that pose the highest risk to our environment, public spaces, heritage and way of life. It will be used to enable and prioritise activities that help prevent their entry, establishment and spread.

Invasive species are the hugely damaging to Australia’s unique native plants, animals and ecosystems. As one of the seventeen ‘megadiverse’ countries of the world, Australia is a hotspot for biodiversity, with around 600,000 species of animals and plants, many of which are endemic.

Almost one hundred of our endemic species have become extinct in the last 200 years and more than 1,770 are currently threatened or endangered. These threatened and endangered Australian species are under pressure from at least 207 invasive plants, 57 invasive animals and 3 disease-causing organisms.

The Priority List will:

  • Raise government, industry and community awareness of exotic environmental pests, weeds and diseases, to improve collaboration and participation in environmental biosecurity
  • Guide surveillance activities, to keep on the look-out for exotic invasive species in Australia
  • Strengthen preparedness and response capabilities, to respond effectively when something is found, and
  • Inform research and development, to be equipped with the best knowledge to address the risks.

It will improve Australia’s environmental biosecurity through:

  • Greater awareness of what to look-out for and why
  • Better understanding of risks and potential impacts
  • Inform preparedness and response activities
  • Guiding future research and development priorities.

The Priority List

The Priority List identifies 168 exotic pests, weeds and diseases spread across eight thematic groups. A Priority List subset containing 42 higher risk exotic environmental pest species that pose the greatest risk to Australia’s environmental biosecurity is also compiled. The higher risk species include 5-6 species from each of the eight thematic groups in the Priority List.

Publication details

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, 2019

The higher risk exotic environmental pest species

Common name(s) Species name Organism type Host / Vector

Aquatic Animal Diseases

Bonamiosis Bonamia ostreae unicellular eukaryote - (cercozia) crustaceans
Crayfish plague Aphanomyces astaci water mould (oomycete) Freshwater crustaceans
Megalocytiviruses Infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV), and
Red sea bream iridovirus (RSIV)
virus marine fish
White spot syndrome White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) virus crustaceans
Yellow head disease Yellow head virus-1 (YHV1) virus crustaceans

Freshwater Invertebrates

Asian clam Corbicula fluminea Freshwater shellfish  
Chinese mystery snail and Japanese mystery snail Cipangopaludina chinensis
and
Cipangopaludina japonica
Freshwater snail  
Golden apple snail and island apple snail Pomacea canaliculate
and
Pomacea maculata
Freshwater snail  
Quagga mussel and
zebra mussel
Dreissena bugensis
and
Dreissena polymorpha
Freshwater shellfish  
Quilted melania Tarebia granifera Freshwater snail  

Marine Pests

Asian green mussel Perna viridis Marine shellfish  
Black-striped false mussel Mytilopsis sallei Marine shellfish  
Carpet sea squirt Didemnum vexillum Sea squirt  
Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis Freshwater and marine crustacean  
Lady crab / Asian paddle crab Charybdis japonica Marine crustacean  

Native Animal Diseases

Duck viral enteritis / Duck plague Anatid herpesvirus-1 virus Birds
Exotic West Nile Virus Disease West Nile virus (WNV)
(other than WNV lineage 1b (Kunjin virus))
virus Birds<>Mosquitoes
Pacheco’s disease and Internal papillomatosis disease Psittacid alphaherpesvirus-1 (PsHV-1) virus psittacine (parrots)
Proventricular dilatation disease Parrot bornavirus (PaBV) virus psittacine (parrots)
White nose syndrome Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungi bats

Plant Diseases

Ceratocystis wilt Ceratocystis manginecans
(and other exotic Ceratocystis spp.)
fungi Plant products
Myrtle rust Austropuccinia psidii
(exotic strains)
fungi Plant products
Fusarium wilt Fusarium euwallaceae fungi Polyphagous shot hole borer (beetle)
Euwallacea fornicatus
Sudden oak death / ramorum blight Phytophthora ramorum Unicellular eukaryote (oomycete) Plant products
Teratosphaeria leaf blight / Teratosphaeria stem canker Teratosphaeria destructans
and
T. zuluensis
fungi Plant products
Xylella Xylella fastidiosa bacteria Plant products / leafhopper insects

Terrestrial Invertebrates

Asian gypsy moth Lymantria dispar insect  
Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus insect  
Giant African snail Achatina fulica Land snail  
Harlequin lady beetle / multicolored Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis insect  
Invasive ants – (red imported fire ant and electric ant) Solenopsis invicta
and
Wasmannia auropunctata
insect  

Vertebrates

Asian black-spined toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus amphibian  
Boa constrictor Boa constrictor reptile  
Climbing perch Anabas testudineus fish  
Corn snake Pantherophis guttatus reptile  
Red-eared slider turtle Trachemys scripta elegans reptile  
Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix fish  

Weeds and Freshwater Algae

Didymo Didymosphenia geminata Algae
(Chromista - freshwater diatom)
 
Manchurian wild rice Zizania latifolia plant  
Mikania Mikania micrantha plant  
Mouse-ear hawkweed Pilosella officinarum plant  
Spiked pepper Piper aduncum plant  

The National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases - (Priority List)

Listed alphabetically per thematic group.

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Aquatic Animal Diseases

Common Name(s) Species Name
*Bonamiosis Bonamia ostreae
*Crayfish plague Aphanomyces astaci
Grouper iridoviral disease Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV) and Grouper iridovirus (GIV) (genus Ranavirus)
Infectious hematopoietic necrosis Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) (genus Rhabdovirus)
Infectious myonecrosis Infectious myonecrosis virus (IMNV) (genus Totivirus)
Infectious pancreatic necrosis Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) (genus Aquabirnavirus)
Marteiliosis (Aber disease) Marteilia refringens
*Megalocytivirus Infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV) and Red sea bream iridovirus (RSIV) (genus Megalocytivirus)
Mikrocytosis (Denman Island disease)

Mikrocytos mackini

Necrotising hepatopancreatitis ‘Candidatus Hepatobacter penaei’
Perkinsosis (Dermo disease) Perkinsus marinus
Protozoic whirling disease Myxobolus cerebralis / Microsporidium takedai
Taura syndrome Taura syndrome virus (TSV) (genus Aparavirus)
Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) (genus Novirhabdovirus)
*White spot syndrome

White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) (genus Whispovirus)

Withering syndrome (of abalones) Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis’
*Yellow head disease Yellow head virus genotype-1 (YHV1) (genus Okavirus)

* indicates a higher risk species.

Freshwater Invertebrates

Common Name(s) Species Name
*Asian clam Corbicula fluminea
Assassin snail Clea / Anentome spp.
Bloody-red mysid shrimp Hemimysis anomala
Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis
*Chinese mystery snail and Japanese mystery snail Cipangopaludina chinensis and C. japonica
Danube crayfish / Turkish crayfish Astacus leptodactylus
Freshwater mussel Cristaria plicata
Freshwater snails Biomphalaria genus Biomphalaria spp
Freshwater snails Bulinus genus Bulinus spp.
Freshwater snails Oncomelania genus Oncomelania spp.
*Golden apple snail and Island apple snail Pomacea canaliculata and P. maculata
Golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei
Horn snail Indoplanorbis exustus
Land snails Radix genus Exotic Radix spp.
Louisiana red crayfish / Red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii
Mud snail Galba truncatula
Northern crayfish / Virile crayfish Orconectes virilis
*Quagga mussel and Zebra mussel Dreissena bugensis and D. polymorpha
*Quilted melania Tarebia granifera
Rusty crayfish Orconectes rusticus
Serrate crownsnail Pyrgophorus platyrachis
Signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus
Spinycheek crayfish       Orconectes limosus

* indicates a higher risk species.

Marine Pests

Common Name(s) Species Name
Asian brackish-water clam / Overbite clam Potamocorbula amurensis
*Asian green mussel Perna viridis
Atlantic oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea
*Black-striped false mussel Mytilopsis sallei
Brown mussel Perna perna
Brush-clawed shore crab Hemigrapsus takanoi
*Carpet sea squirt Didemnum vexillum
Centric diatom Chaetoceros concavicornis
*Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis
Comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi
Harris’ mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisi
Japanese shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus
Japanese skeleton shrimp Caprella mutica
Japanese wireweed Sargassum muticum
*Lady crab / Asian paddle crab Charybdis japonica
New Zealand green-lipped mussel Perna canaliculus
Rapa whelk Rapana venosa
Red-gilled mudworm Marenzelleria neglecta
Soft shelled clam Mya arenaria
Toxic dinoflagellate Dinophysis norvegica

* indicates a higher risk species.

Native Animal Diseases

Common Name(s) Species Name
Avian paramyxovirus-3 (PMV3) and Avian paramyxovirus-5 (PMV5) Avian paramyxovirus-3 (PMV3) and Avian paramyxovirus-5 (PMV5)
Bubonic plague Yersinia pestis
Exotic novel nidovirus strains in reptiles Exotic novel coronavirus, including python nidovirus (order Nidovirales, family Coronaviridae)
Deformed wing virus in bees Deformed wing virus (DWV) (family Iflaviridae)
*Duck viral enteritis / duck plague Anatid herpesvirus-1
Exotic Flaviviruses (Bagaza and Usutu) Exotic Flaviviruses – Bagaza virus and Usutu virus
Exotic novel herpesviruses of reptiles Family Herpesviridae, subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae
Exotic highly pathogenic avian influenza Exotic Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAI)
Ophidian paramyxovirus (OPMV) / Fer-de-lance virus - infection of snakes Subfamily Paramyxovirinae, genus Ferlavirus
*Pacheco’s disease and internal papillomatosis disease Psittacid alphaherpesvirus-1 (PsHV-1)
Phocine distemper Phocine distemper virus (PDV) (genus Morbillivirus)
*Proventricular dilatation disease Parrot bornavirus (PaBV)
Psittacine pox virus Psittacine pox virus (PsPoV) (genus Avipoxvirus)
Rabies virus Rabies virus / Rabies lyssavirus (genus Lyssavirus)
Screwworm fly Chrysomya bezziana and Cochliomyia hominivorax
Severe Perkinsea infection in frogs Pathogenic Perkinsea clade of frogs
Snake fungal disease Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola
Surra Trypanosoma evansi
*West Nile virus infection Exotic West Nile virus lineages - other than 1b (WNV Kunjin)
*White nose syndrome (of bats) Pseudogymnoascus destructans

* indicates a higher risk species.

Plant Diseases

Common Name(s) Species Name
Annosus root and butt rot Heterobasidion annosum
Armillaria root rot Armillaria mellea
Blood disease of banana and clove wilt Ralstonia syzygii
*Ceratocystis wilt Ceratocystis manginecans
Ceratocystis wilt Ceratocystis albifundus
Chestnut blight Cryphonectria parasitica
Chrysoporthe canker / Eucalyptus canker Chrysoporthe austroafricana
Coconut lethal yellowing Candidatus phytoplasma palmae’
Dutch elm disease Ophiostoma ulmi sensu lato
Elm yellows / Elm phloem necrosis Candidatus phytoplasma ulmi’
*Fusarium wilt Fusarium euwallaceae
Huanglongbing / Citrus greening Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter africanus’ and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter americanus’
*Myrtle rust (exotic strains) Austropuccinia psidii – exotic strains
Oak wilt Ceratocystis fagacearum
Phytophthora blight Phytophthora kernoviae
*Sudden oak death / Ramorum blight Phytophthora ramorum
Teratosphaeria canker Teratosphaeria gauchensis
*Teratosphaeria leaf blight / Teratosphaeria stem canker Teratosphaeria destructans / T. zuluensis
Texas root rot Phymatotrichopsis omnivora
*Xylella Xylella fastidiosa

* indicates a higher risk species.

Terrestrial Invertebrates

Common Name(s) Species Name
Africanised honeybee Apis mellifera scutellata and its hybrids
Annona mealybug / Pineapple mealybug Dysmicoccus neobrevipes
Asian / Yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina
Asian bee mite Tropilaelaps clareae
Asian bee mite Tropilaelaps mercedesae
*Asian gypsy moth Lymantria dispar (Lymantria dispar asiatica, Lymantria dispar japonica and Lymantria dispar dispar)
Brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys
Cape honeybee Apis mellifera capensis
Common eastern bumblebee Bombus impatiens
Cycad aulacaspis scale Aulacaspis yasumatsui
Delta wasp Delta pyriforme
Dichroplus grasshopper Dichroplus elongatus and D. maculipennis
*Electric ant Wasmannia auropunctata
*Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus
*Giant African snail Achatina fulica
Gold dust weevil Hypomeces squamosus
*Harlequin lady beetle/ Multicolored Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis
Honey bee tracheal mite Acarapis woodi
Oriental powderpost beetle Lyctoxylon dentatum
Picnic beetle Glischrochilus fasciatus and G. quadrisignatus
*Red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta
Rosy predator snail Euglandina rosea
Shot hole borer Euwallacea fornicatus complex
Western drywood termite Incisitermes minor

* indicates a higher risk species.

Vertebrates

Common Name(s) Species Name
African pygmy hedgehog Atelerix albiventris
*Asian black-spined toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus
Asian painted frog Kaloula pulchra
*Boa constrictor Boa constrictor
Burmese python Python bivittatus
Chinese carp Ctenopharyngodon idella
*Climbing perch Anabas testudineus
Common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina
*Corn snake Pantherophis guttatus
Fire bellied newt Cynops orientalis
Flat-tailed house gecko Hemidactylus platyurus
Green iguana Iguana iguana
Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
House crow Corvus splendens
Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus
Oriental garden lizard Calotes versicolor
Pacific rat Rattus exulans
*Red-eared slider turtle Trachemys scripta elegans
*Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
Snakeheads Channa spp. (including Channa striata)
Stoat Mustela erminea
Veiled chameleon Chamaeleo calyptratus
Walking catfish Clarias batrachus

* indicates a higher risk species.

Weeds and Freshwater Algae

Common Name(s) Species Name
Asiatic sand sedge Carex kobomugi
Black sage Cordia curassavica
Black swallow-wort Vincetoxicum nigrum
Brittle naiad Najas minor
Cane tibouchina Tibouchina herbacea
*Didymo Didymosphenia geminata
Halogeton Halogeton glomeratus
Karoo thorn Vachellia karoo
Lagariosiphon Lagarosiphon major
Leafy spurge Euphorbia esula
*Manchurian wildrice Zizania latifolia
*Mikania Mikania micrantha
*Mouse-ear hawkweed Pilosella officinarum
Nepalese browntop Microstegium vimineum
Portuguese broom Cytisus striatus
Slangbos Seriphium plumosum
South African ragwort Senecio inaequidens
*Spiked pepper Piper aduncum
Water primrose Ludwigia grandiflora
Wiregrass Ventenata dubia

* indicates a higher risk species.

Management and governance of the Priority List

The Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer (CEBO) is the custodian of the Priority List and will administer its use and manage any ad hoc and planned reviews.

The Environment and Invasives Committee (EIC) has policy oversight of the Priority List. When developing, reviewing and amending of the Priority List, the EIC will consult with:

  • Plant Health Committee
  • Animal Health Committee
  • Marine Pest Sectoral Committee

The National Biosecurity Committee endorsed the final Priority List prior to its release.

How the Priority List was developed

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the department led the development of the Priority List through an extensive national mutli-staged expert elicitation and public consultation process.

Experts and key stakeholders were brought together to identify those exotic species that are considered the greatest threat to the environment and/or social amenity at the national level.

The approach involved:

  • developing a database of exotic invasive species that have the potential to have environmental impacts in Australia (see the approach to identifying exotic species with environmental impacts)
  • reviewing prioritisation methods from across the world
  • consulting with list makers to provide options to experts on methods for developing the Priority List
  • participants jointly agreeing on the purpose of the list, its use, audience and methodology; and testing a suitable methodology during workshops
  • experts shortlisting candidate species for assessment for the Priority List, and
  • using a structured expert elicitation and semi-quantitative methodology to assess and prioritise species.

To find out more about development of the list an information paper can be requested by contacting acebo@awe.gov.au

Questions and Answers

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Is funding available for research, prevention and preparedness activities relating to species identified on the Priority List?

The CEBO manages an Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund and welcomes proposals that seek to improve the research on, and Australia’s ability to undertake prevention and preparedness activities for, species identified on the Priority List.

Why is ‘species X’ not on the list?

Species may have been excluded because:

  • they are unlikely to enter Australia
  • there is unsuitable habitat and/or climate
  • they have no known hosts in Australia
  • the species taxonomy is uncertain, very little is known about them or their potential impacts in Australia
  • they are allowed to be privately kept by state or territory laws (this does not include species in highly contained environments such as zoos)
  • they are already established in Australia.

We used a collaborative, rigorous and evidence-based process to determine priority species.

This process accounted for overall impact, along with the likelihood of entry, establishment and spread. For each thematic group, experts assessed around 20-25 species. Experts shortlisted these species from lists of over 1000 species, depending on the group.

Over 160 species across eight taxonomic groups were shortlisted for full assessment.

The process also ensures that the Priority List can be built upon as new information arises, with ad hoc amendments able to be made to the list, including assessment of new high-srisk species.

But species X is already in Australia – why is it on the list?

This list focuses on species not yet established in Australia. Exotic species are defined as those that are not introduced, or if they have been, are under an official eradication program. Some species on the list are under official eradication and are therefore still classed as exotic. If a species is no longer under eradication and is instead being ‘managed’ it would no longer meet the criteria for the list and will be removed.

The process also ensures that the Priority List can be built upon as new information arises, with ad hoc amendments able to be made to the list, including the removal of species.

Why are there only five higher risk species for each thematic group on the list?

The experts who developed the Priority List jointly decided that it should emphasise the higher risk species of greatest concern from all eight thematic groups. This resulted in five or six species from each thematic group (total of 42) identified that will be used to focus communications and increase awareness of the key environmental biosecurity threats facing Australia.

The higher risk species will also be prioritised when identifying actions required to mitigate the risk of entry, establishment, and spread of these species on a national scale.

However, for most environmental biosecurity functions including prevention, preparedness, surveillance, identification, response, communication and management, the complete list of 168 species will be used.

How does this list relate to other priority lists?

The Priority List doesn’t replace other national lists or processes. Other priority lists exist that have been developed for different purposes. State and territory governments also have compiled lists to meet regulatory obligations.

Other national priority lists include:

  • National list of notifiable animal diseases
  • National list of reportable diseases of aquatic animals
  • National priority plant pest list 2016
  • Australian priority marine pest list

Other lists developed in Australia include (but are not limited to):

  • Live import list
  • List of exotic vertebrates in Australia
  • NAQS target list (pests, diseases and weeds)

Future updates and reviews

The Priority List is a living document. It will be updated based on new and better threat and consequence information.

Species may also be added or removed on an ad hoc basis, including when new evidence becomes available.

The first review of the Priority List will also occur within three years of it’s release (i.e. by November 2023). Subsequent reviews will be held at no more than five yearly intervals.

The Priority List, its underpinning purpose, listing criteria and methodology will be considered during these reviews.

Stay in touch

Join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on Environmental Biosecurity Office news, including information on the Priority List. Email acebo@awe.gov.au

Last reviewed: 10 November 2020
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