Methods and Systems for Predicting Biological Species Invasions

Track Code: 

Ecological Niche Modeling for Predicting the Potential Geographic Distribution of Invasive Species. This invention uses a novel combination of computer programs and analytical techniques drawn from quantitative geography, artificial intelligence, and the emerging field of biodiversity informatics to provide a tool for predicting, analyzing, and strategizing against agricultural species invasions.

Invasive species represent an increasingly serious problem for a broad spectrum of industries, including agriculture, aquaculture, transportation, medicine, and conservation. With the increasing scales of human movements, plant and animal species are moving as well. Invasive alien species are now causing a range of problems including agricultural pest damage, shipping impeded by alien plants or mollusks choking waterways, highways crowded by invasive plants, new diseases in humans or livestock, and natural ecosystems compromised by the appearance of nonnative species. Current approaches to combating invasives are rudimentary and inefficient. Control strategies are often developed after invaders are detected, making the entire process reactive in nature. The KU invention utilizes models based on an artificial-intelligence algorithm, and provides a high degree of predictivity. The inventors have analyzed several invasions that have already taken place, and found that the procedure could have predicted their geographic foci with a good amount of confidence. They have also analyzed situations in which invasions are only now taking place, and find that unanticipated results often provide surprising new insights into the invasion process. More information about the model can be found in the downloadable published white paper.

download white paper


The invention is aimed at corporate and governmental agricultural applications, with the highest potential residing in its use as a resource allocation tool for combating accidental introductions of invasive species, as well as bio-terrorism scenario planning.

How it works: 

Based on information at hand regarding occurrences of a species, models of species' ecological niches are developed, and the projection of those models in the invaded or potentially invaded area provides a prediction of the species' potential distribution in the new area. The procedure requires only information on species' occurrences and geographic coverages for the native and invaded ranges. The latter are broadly available from a variety of sources, and the former can be obtained for most species. Hence, the approach is generally applicable to the great majority of species, even those that are rare or poorly known.


This new process offers the agricultural industry a variety of new functionalities including pest management and planning tools for growers, crop insurance risk management, investment management for commodity traders and food companies, inventory management and marketing tools for agrochemical companies, and R&D management for agricultural biotechnology companies. It may also be used to assist in the development of policies related to biological species and their management.

Why it is better: 

Current approaches combating invasive species consists of monitoring, detection, and reaction. The present invention provides a proactive method of predicting and addressing invasive species problems before they reach the stage of detection and reaction, minimizing costs related to damage and remediation.

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · · 785-864-6397
David Vieglais
A.Townsend Peterson
US 7,308,392