Setting science-based priorities

To support the prioritisation of exotic biosecurity risk organisms we developed the Dairy Biosecurity Risk Evaluation Framework (D-BRiEF) for DairyNZ. The project was highly collaborative requiring us to help bring together New Zealand and international experts to get the best outcomes for the industry.

Dairy Biosecurity Risk Evaluation Framework
New Zealand

New Zealand Biosecurity Awards
We were honoured to be a Finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards for this work and our contribution to strengthening biosecurity and One Health frameworks.

Connecting innovative methods with decision-making

Risk prioritisation is a highly complex process starting from expert elicitation to advanced analytical methods to aggregate expert opinion and finally translating results into meaningful outputs for risk managers and decision makers.  To support Dairy NZ’s ambitions for improved biosecurity risk prioritisation we worked with our network of international experts to develop state-of-the art methods, which we jointly published in a peer-reviewed journal to ensure they pass external scrutiny.

To support the successful operationalisation of the risk framework we made sure that all results can be quickly accessed by risk managers,  communicated to decision-makers in an easy to understand way, and are supported by branded visuals like comparative graphs or charts.

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An interdisciplinary expert driven approach

D-BRiEF is a collaborative and interdisciplinary expert-driven framework that examines the biosecurity risks posed by different animal diseases, pest plants and insect pests. To achieve this, we had to unite experts from different backgrounds to create a joint opinion on for example the likely spread of pest organisms and expected impacts, should they arrive in the country.

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Engaging stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders, including farmers, was key to the project’s success. We provided additional science communication materials such as explanatory videos and infographics to support Dairy NZ in this important process.


Muellner P, Hodges D, Ahlstrom C, Newman M, Davidson R, Pfeiffer D, Marshall J, Morley C. Creating a framework for the prioritization of biosecurity risks to the New Zealand dairy industry. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, doi: 10.1111/tbed.12848, 2018.
Available here


Muellner P, Hodges D, Spencer S, Shackelton L.  A fresh look at the mathematical aggregation of expert opinion for biosecurity risk analysis. Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS) Science Week, Surfer’s Paradise, Australia, 2019.

Muellner P, Hodges D, Muellner U. Too many risk organisms, so little time – building a framework for the New Zealand dairy industry to effectively assess biosecurity risks. Proceedings of the 15th Symposium of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE), Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2018.

Hodges D, Muellner P. Prioritising biosecurity risks to the New Zealand dairy industry. New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand, June 2018.

Morley C, Muellner P, Hodges D.  Building a sustainable framework for expert-guided biosecurity risk assessment for the New Zealand dairy industry. Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS) Science Week, Surfer’s Paradise, Australia, 2017.