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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL CONTROL RESEARCH ON WESTERN RANGELAND WEEDS

Location: Pest Management Research Unit

2013 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:

ARS Researchers at Sidney, MT monitored saltcedar attack by biological control agents in WY, but found the tamarisk beetle present only at barely detectable levels. We still have no known established beetle populations in MT. We are continuing beetle / plant drought experiments in the containment facility. The hoary cress weevil was imported to quarantine from France and hybridization trials have begun. We will establish a colony of the weevil with these individuals.

We determined the species identification of various knotweeds invading the western USA using DNA methods. Our results determined that one species that was previously thought to not be present in the USA is actually the most prevalent species in the invasion. This information will help land managers more efficiently control the plants using eventual biological control agents that are being developed for different knotweeds species.

We contact the BLM approximately monthly via email. We also reported our results via powerpoint presentations during a biological control meeting in Bozeman, MT in November 2012. We also emailed the BLM pdfs of all publications related to their funding support.


Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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