|Cristofaro, Massimo - ENEA C.R. CASACCIA|
|Hayat, Rustem - ATATURK UNIVERSITY|
|Tronci, Carlo - ENEA C.R. CASACCIA|
Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 19, 2004
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Citation: Smith, L., Cristofaro, M., Hayat, R., Tronci, C. 2004. Predicting host plant specificity of a prospective biological control agent: ceratapion basicorne, a weevil attacking yellow starthistle. Ecological Society of America Proceedings. Technical Abstract: Classical biological control of weeds involves the introduction of alien herbivores to control invasive alien plants. Although this strategy has the potential to reduce pest populations to acceptable levels over wide areas for long time periods, it also poses possible risks for adversely damaging nontarget species. Assessment of the host plant specificity of a prospective biological control agent can be used to predict potential adverse direct effects on nontarget plants. However, the artificiality of laboratory experiments may produce results that do not accurately predict what would occur under field conditions. A series of laboratory no-choice and choice oviposition experiments and a field experiment were conducted to assess the likelihood that the prospective yellow starthistle biological control agent, Ceratapion basicorne, would attack nontarget plants. Laboratory experiments showed that under no-choice conditions, the insect was capable of ovipositing in 19 plant species, it could complete development on only 4 species, and was most specific in choice and field experiments.