Review, Resources, & References
1. The Role of Natural Enemies
Natural enemies such as herbivores and pathogens play an important role in regulating plant populations. The absence of natural enemies may contribute to the invasiveness of some nonnative plant species.
2. Classical Biocontrol
Classical biocontrol is defined as the “intentional introduction of an exotic (nonnative), usually co-evolved biological control agent for permanent establishment and long-term pest control.”
3. The Goal of Biocontrol
The goal of classical biocontrol is to restore some of the regulating factors that limit the competitive ability of an invasive plant species in its native range. Successful biocontrol agents will not eliminate their host plant populations, but will reduce populations to levels below damaging thresholds.
4. Ecological Cornerstones
The practice of biocontrol is based on two broad ecological cornerstones: (1) one organism can be used to control another; and (2) some organisms have a limited host range.
5. Effects of Biocontrol on Invasive Plants
When biocontrol works, it provides a low-cost, self-perpetuating, long-term control option for many, but not all, invasive plant species. Suppression of invasive plant populations by biocontrol agents takes several years.
6. NonTarget Effects of Biocontrol
Although biocontrol is often promoted as an environmentally benign management method, there are a number of examples where biocontrol has been linked to significant nontarget effects such as nontarget attacks and host-shifting, accidental introductions, ecological replacement, and food-web interactions.
7. Regulation & The Code
Guidance to biocontrol practitioners conducting initial biocontrol agent release and redistribution activities is provided by the TAG committee and federal and state statutory regulations. The International Code of Best Practices provides further guidance for redistribution and places additional emphasis on predicting agent effectiveness and implementing post-release monitoring.
8. Factors Affecting Success
Successful establishment of biocontrol agents is a function of a number of abiotic, biotic, and procedural factors. Identifying and avoiding common errors will help to improve the effectiveness of biocontrol.
Post-release monitoring should be designed to detect a biocontrol agent’s establishment, intensity of attack, effects on target plants, and effects on the environment.
10. Management Options and Integrating Strategies
Biocontrol is an invasive plant suppression tool and may support other methods when containment is the goal. However, biocontrol is not effective in eradicating or preventing invasive plant infestations. When integrated with other methods, every effort should be made to avoid practices that may impede a biocontrol agent’s development or reproduction.
Glossaries for Biocontrol Terms
University of Florida - Glossary of Expressions in Biological Control
Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States
Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the Eastern United States
Biological Control: a guide to natural enemies in North America
Biological Control of Aquatic Invasive Plants: Your Guide
Biological Control of Weeds: A World Catalogue of Agents and Their Target Weeds
MH Julien (Author), MW Griffiths (Editor). 1999. 4th ed. Wallingford (UK): CAB International. 196 p.
The Nature Conservancy - Weed Control Methods Handbook
Policy and Procedure
USDA-APHIS-PPQ Release Protocols and Documentation Forms
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
Reviewer’s Manual for TAG for Biocontrol of Weeds: Guidelines for Evaluating the Safety of Candidate Biocontrol Agents
Research and Publications Databases
Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI)
Agricultural Research Service: Biological Control Documentation Center
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