Navigation Links
Predicting the perfect predator
Date:2/13/2008

Garlic mustard has become an invasive species in temperate forests across the United States, choking out native plants on forest floors and threatening ecosystem diversity. University of Illinois ecologist Adam Davis has created a computer model that in combination with quarantined research tests he believes will be able to predict the perfect predator -- a pest that can be introduced into a forested area that will help reduce the garlic mustard population.

The traditional method has been to release multiple agents into the environment and overwhelm the pest, said Davis. But with multiple introductions comes an increased likelihood that one of the agents will become invasive as well. So, what were trying to do is to figure out which one is the most likely to actually have an impact on garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and release as few agents as possible.

Davis is a member of the research team for USDAs Invasive Weed Management Unit at the U of I. He has been working since 2004 on a project along with scientists at Michigan State, Cornell, and the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control in Switzerland.

Davis computer model creates a simulation of the population dynamics of the pest species its seed and growth cycle, stressors, etc. Then you can introduce the biological control agents that youre considering one at a time and see whether you can get away with just introducing one agent, said Davis. I collected data from field experiments and entered them into the computer model which then projects forward which agent will be most effective.

The computer simulation was used to select a tiny weevil, about the size of an o in 12 point type. There are actually several weevils that feed on garlic mustard back home in Europe, where it comes from, said Davis. This particular weevil that were looking at (Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis) feeds on the plant at several stages in its life cycle so its a much more effective agent than some of the other ones.

What happens if the control agent also becomes an invasive species?

A stringent battery of tests is performed on each biocontrol agent in quarantine before it is ever released. For example, garlic mustard is in the same family (Brassicaceae) as cabbage, so one test might be to only feed the weevil cabbage and see if it survives on it or can reproduce on it. If it does, then the possibility exists that it could move from the garlic mustard and threaten cabbage plants, which we dont want to happen. But, this particular weevil has passed that test for a wide variety of plants.

Davis said that there are different strategies for biological control. One strategy is inundative in which the control agent eats its way through the garlic mustard and then dies out itself because there isnt anything left to support it. The other strategy is to introduce a natural enemy that will just bring the population down to a lower level and the plants and pests just continue to coexist. The idea is that you reunite plants with a natural enemy from back home which in garlic mustards case is Europe. In Switzerland garlic mustard and the weevil coexist and neither one is invasive.

Garlic mustard was brought to the United States from Europe innocently in the 1870s as a culinary herb but its natural enemy didnt accompany it.

Davis says there are some concerns among ecologists about biological control because of the risk of negative effects on nontarget species. But when you have invasive plant species covering very large acreages its almost impossible to manage by hand, he said. There are herbicides that will work on garlic mustard, but it infests millions of acres of forest and theres no way you can get out there and spray all of that. And because garlic mustard has a really long-lived seed bank, in order to eradicate it, youd have to hit it for about eight to ten years in a row.

Pending approval from APHIS-PPQ (the species evaluation and quarantine arm of the USDA) the weevil is scheduled to be released into an infested forest later this year. Davis said that the beauty of using simulation models to guide biocontrol is that this approach can be adapted for use in controlling other invasive species, not just garlic mustard.


'/>"/>

Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@uiuc.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Predicting the radiation risk to ESAs astronauts
2. Predicting growth hormone treatment success
3. Trial seeks genetic fingerprint for predicting drug effectiveness
4. Texel paleothermometer for climate reconstruction perfected
5. Slow-motion video study shows shrews are highly sophisticated predators
6. Predators and parasites may increase evolutionary stability
7. Researchers view swimming tactics of tiny aquatic predators
8. Hidden interactions between predators and prey: evolution causes cryptic dynamics in ecology
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/23/2017)... N.Y. , Aug. 23, 2017  The general public,s help is ... human microbiome—the bacteria that live in and on the human body –and ... The ... in the human microbiome, starting with the gut. The project's goal is ... disease. Photo credit: IBM ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead of their boarding ... ... biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in May at the ... to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled in CLEAR to ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017 ... a leader in dairy research, today announced a new ... help reduce the chances that the global milk supply ... this dairy project, Cornell University has become the newest ... Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that includes ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech ... biological mechanism by which its ProCell stem cell ... critical limb ischemia.  The Company, demonstrated that treatment ... amount of limbs saved as compared to standard ... the molecule HGF resulted in reduction of therapeutic ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ... University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS ... for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System which ... video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography (sEMG). ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... WA (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... industry leader in Hi-C-based genomic technologies, launched its ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution ... ProxiMeta Hi-C kit and accompanying cloud-based bioinformatics software to perform Hi-C metagenome ...
Breaking Biology Technology: