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:11/24/2016)... Cercacor today introduced Ember TM Sport ... non-invasively measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, Perfusion ... in approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, using ... to key data about their bodies to help monitor ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When hemoglobin ...
(Date:11/19/2016)... 18, 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced today that it ... to have an independent technology judge determine who has ... high tech/sophisticated telephone calling platform, and the best customer ... do most of what we do – which clearly ...
(Date:11/15/2016)...  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), a ... gut microbiome, today announced the pricing of an ... common stock and warrants to purchase 50,000,000 shares ... the public of $1.00 per share and accompanying ... offering, excluding the proceeds, if any from the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/5/2016)... -- According to the new market ... Instruments, Automated Cell Expansion System), Cells Types (Human, ... Cancer, and Cell-Based Research), End-users (Biopharmaceutical and Biotechnology ... Trends, Growth, Share, Size and Forecast to 2022", ... expansion market is expected to reach USD 18.74 ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... Mich. , Dec. 5, 2016 NxGen MDx announced today ... bringing the test in house, we,ve been able to improve customer service ... for patients," says Alan Mack , CEO of NxGen MDx. ... , , ... test volume has led to more job opportunities at the Grand Rapid ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... -- The U.S. Biotechnology industry is the ... revenue and some $890 billion of total market value. In ... and this figure is expected to exceed $220 billion ... four equities for assessment: Northwest Biotherapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... ACAD ), Acorda Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOR ...
(Date:12/4/2016)...  In five studies being presented today during the ... Exposition in San Diego , researchers ... delivery of life-saving treatments to patients with a variety ... carry therapies directly to the sites in the body ... substantial advantage over traditional, systemic methods. The studies highlight ...
Breaking Biology Technology: