2013 Annual Report
Prior to the collection of their natural enemies, more in depth studies on the biology, ecology, genetics, and/or taxonomy of water primrose, cactus moth and little fire ant are required. These studies are planned as sub-objectives.
Target priorities are set by Congressional mandates, as a result of stakeholder workshops, or by hierarchical decision with input from ARS National Program Leaders (NPLs), stakeholders, SABCL director and ARS scientists. Flexibility in this Project is needed to deal with new pest problems in the U.S., with concurrence of NPLs and ARS laboratories.
SABCL functions as an overseas arm for several U.S.-based biological control programs on invasive pests of South American origin (except glassy-winged sharpshooter), conducting foreign exploration, collection and evaluation of potential biological control agents to be used in the U.S.
Waterhyacinth, Brazilian peppertree, imported fire ants, and glassy-winged sharpshooter were also targets in the previous Project Plan and, except for Brazilian peppertree, Obj.1 and Obj.2 have already been accomplished; current work is limited to collecting and shipping of selected agents (Obj.3). Brazilian waterweed, water primrose, water lettuce, cactus moth, little fire ants and Harrisia cactus mealybug were added by NPLs during the implementation of the previous Project Plan and investigations are in different stages of progress; for the most recently-added targets (cactus moth, little fire ant and Harrisia cactus mealybug), specific approach and procedures for Ob.2 will be determined as soon as natural enemies are discovered, collected and identified.
The general impact of work conducted at SABCL includes conservation of non-renewable resources by self-perpetuation of natural enemies; cost-effective suppression of target pests; decreased use of hazardous pesticides; improved environment quality; protection of natural ecosystems from invasive species, favoring biodiversity; sustainable production systems and land use; higher quality food and fiber; higher protection of human health; enhanced scientific understanding of successful biocontrol programs and integrated pest management.
Brazilian peppertree. Funds for this project were suspended for FY.
Brazilian waterweed. A colony of a fly was shipped to the ARS quarantine in Albany. It has established successfully.
Water primrose. The main promising candidate under study is a new species of thrips. In feeding tests it showed specificity for two target weeds. The host preference is under study. In a damage test, nymphs significantly affected the stem length, number of leaves, apical bud damage and number of secondary branches produced. Two new subspecies of the weed were found and described.
Water lettuce. A competition, damage, and compatibility test with two natural enemies was evaluated in cages located on a pond covered with the weed in a Natural Reserve. Damage caused a drastic reduction in the water lettuce populations.
Imported fire ants. Ten colony fragments of the red imported fire ant infected with a disease were shipped to the US. Also, the evolutionary relationships among a group of flies were studied by molecular techniques.
Cactus moth. The laboratory rearing of a parasitoid was optimized and information on its distribution and field host range revealed specificity for two moths. The parasitoid was exported to the quarantine facilities at Gainesville, FL, to conduct additional host specificity studies.
Little fire ant. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic analysis were continued and thermal tolerance investigated. The potential global distribution was reported.
Olivier, R., Estoup, A., Vonshak, M., Loiseau, A., Blanchet, S., Rossi, J., Kergoat, G.J., Foucaud, J., Orivel, J., Calcaterra, L., Chifflet, L., Courtoisier, P., Leponce, M., Schultz, T., Facon, B. 2012. Where do adaptive shifts occur during invasion A multidisciplinary approach to unravel cold adaptation in a tropical ant species invading the Mediterranean zone. Ecology Letters. DOI:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01849.x.