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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development & Evaluation of Biological Control Agents for Invasive Species Threatening the Everglades & Other Natural and Mananged Systems

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6629-22000-011-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2015

Objective:
New funding is to be used to strengthen the existing objective listed below by intensifying exploration for and development of natural enemies of aquatic weeds. Existing objective: Objective 4. Conduct risk analysis to determine environmental safety of new and existing potential biological control agents for weeds such as air potato, melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, lygodium, downy rose myrtle, Chinese tallow, water lettuce and skunk vine. 2. Elucidate the ecology and population dynamics of targeted weeds and their potential insect and pathogen biological control agents, and investigate the impact of weed suppression on community and ecosystem structure and function. 3. Conduct faunistic and floristic inventories to discover natural enemies that may serve as biological control agents for target weeds including, but not limited to Brazilian pepper, lygodium, downy rose myrtle, skunk vine and Chinese tallow. Additional biological control agents will be sought for species for which some control has been achieved, including melaleuca. 4. Conduct risk analysis to determine environmental safety of new and existing potential biological control agents for weeds such as air potato, melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, lygodium, downy rose myrtle, Chinese tallow, waterlettuce and skunk vine. 5. Release, establish, evaluate efficacy, and corroborate environmental safety of approved biological control agents and develop and distribute the technology to customers in order to expedite their adoption and deployment.

Approach:
Survey foreign nations for potential biological control agents, determine host specificity of candidate species, release approved agents into natural and agricultural ecosystems, and evaluate influence of agents on target weed and nontarget species population dynamics. Study molecular genetic target weeds. Study their roles as insect feeding attractants/deterrents, effects on biological control agents' nutritional and reproductive physiology, and possible use in host specificity protocols. Study biological control agents' impact on competition between target weeds and non-target native plants. Identify ways to incorporate biological control agents into IPM strategies. Survey water bodies in Connecticut for presence of troublesome aquatic weeds.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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