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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL CONTROL RESEARCH ON WESTERN RANGELAND WEEDS
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Conduct research with USDA/BLM on weeds that are problems on BLM lands. Weeds include saltcedar, yellowstar thistle, hoary cress, field bindweed, Canada thistle, leafy spurge and the knapweeds. The search for new biological control agents will be conducted by USDA/ARS/EBCL. Research on saltcedar biological control will be conducted by USDA/ARS Sino-American Biological Control Lab-China and by Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Lab-Albany, CA. Insects cleared for use in U.S. will be released and/or evaluated by ARS, Sidney, MT.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Exploration will be conducted in Europe, Eurasia, and China for insects and pathogens which show potential as control agents for priority noxious weeds. Once identified, the agents will be tested for host-specificity and efficacy. Tests on saltcedar and yellowstar thistle insects may be conducted in quarantine in Albany, CA. This is a long-term process, extending over three to six years for new agents. Once tests are completed on a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) list of plants, a report of the test results will be submitted to APHIS/PPQ and TAG. Agents approved for quarantine and/or release via quarantine will be collected and sent to the appropriate quarantine facility for processing. Cleared biological control agents will be released on BLM administered lands by ARS, Sidney, MT. Post-release monitoring for establishment and impact on the targeted weed species will follow these releases. All programmatic changes must be approved in advance by NPS.


3.Progress Report

We monitored saltcedar attack by biological control agents in WY, but found the tamarisk beetle present only at barely detectable levels. Unprecedented flooding blocked monitoring access to all MT sites, and we still have no known established beetle populations in MT. We are initiating new beetle releases in WY in August. The tamarisk moth is being imported to quarantine in September 2011 for initial testing. The hoary cress weevil was imported to quarantine but failed to survive hatching from the galls. That effort will be repeated when the weevils emerge in 2012, with changes in protocol to ensure survival. We analyzed DNA from saltcedar trees at ages spanning from seedlings to 80 years old in a major invasion on the Green River in UT. We found that the even the oldest plants, which correlate with the first regional invasion, were novel hybrids of the two main species of saltcedar from Asia. For Dalmatian toadflax, we collected DNA samples from the USA and native range (Eastern Europe) and will process these to determine the origins and correct identification of our invasion. This information will assist future searches for biological control agents in Europe. Progress for this research was presented to the BLM at the Northern Rockies Invasive Plant Council meeting, 2010, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.


Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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