Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2006
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: As the problems caused by invasive alien species grow, there is increasing concern about how safe it is to release other alien species to control them. Although current standards in the U.S. for aproving new agents for bilogical control of weeds have become much more demanding, many people know little about the permit aproval process or what kind of information is required to obtain a permit for release. This paper presents a summary of the kind of information and analysis that is included in a petition that is submitted to the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which advises USDA-APHIS-PPQ on applications to release new biological control agents. A petition for Ceratapion basicorne for biological control fo yellow starthistle that was submitted to TAG in 2006 shows how information collected from field surveys, and no-choice, choice and field experiments is used to evaluate potential risks of introducing this species.
Technical Abstract: Risk assessment of prospective weed biological control agents for TAG petitions focuses primarily on direct impacts to nontarget plants. This is based on data from field surveys and choice, no-choice and field experiments to measure host plant specificity. Ceratapion basicorne is a weevil from Turkey that attacks root crowns of yellow starthistle. The results indicate that the insect poses extremely little or no risk to native North American plants, nor any risk to crops such as safflower, artichoke and sunflower. However, it is possible that the insect will attack bachelor's button, which is both an ornamental plant and an invasive weed in the western U.S. Potential economic and environmental benefits of releasing the insect appear to greatly outweigh potential costs.