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Patrick Joseph Moran

Research Entomologist

photo of PJ Moran


(510) 559-6393


Area of Expertise:

Research Entomologist


Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1998

Work Experience:

Research Entomologist, USDA/ARS, Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Research Unit, Albany, CA, 2012 to present

Research Entomologist, USDA/ARS, Beneficial Insects Research Unit, Weslaco, TX, 2001-2012

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1998-2001


Research Focus:

The long term objective of my research is to improve control of invasive, non-native weeds of aquatic, riparian (shoreline), rangeland and forest habitats that threaten natural resources such as water or soil, through the application of biological control strategies. I focus specifically on the discovery, characterization, release and evaluation of insects as new biological control agents of invasive weeds. I also evaluate previously-released insects in biological weed control, and develop ways to improve their effectiveness. Studies are conducted in the context of integrated, adaptive management of invasive weeds using multiple control approaches. Activities conducted in my research group that support this objective include:

  1. Characterize the biological life cycle, host range, and efficacy of insects as candidate weed biological control agents in quarantine laboratory and greenhouse facilities.


  1. Determine invasive weed seasonal growth and reproduction at field locations to determine current damage levels, and to guide development of optimally-timed biological control release strategies.


  1. Release and evaluate insects for biological weed control, including development of release strategies, quantification of initial population establishment, and determination of their efficacy in reducing growth, reproduction, and spread of the targeted invasive weed.


  1. Quantify population size of and damage caused by previously-released biological control agents of weeds at field locations.


  1. Assess the impact of successful biological weed control on native plant communities    


  1. Determine the effects of herbicides on biological control agents, and evaluate the efficacy of combined control in the field, to integrate biological weed control into an integrated weed management framework in natural ecosystems.

To date, these research efforts have resulted in 51 publications, including 40 peer review journal articles, and over 70 presentations since 2001 to scientists and stakeholder groups, 23 invited.

My current research projects include:
  • Release and evaluation of a new biological control agent, the shoot tip-galling fly Parafreutreta regalis, for biological control of Cape-ivy in California coastal ecosystems.
  • Release and evaluation of two biological control agents, the shoot tip-galling wasp Tetramesa romana, and the rhizome-feeding armored scale Rhizaspidiotus donacis, for biological control of arundo in the Central Valley of California.
  • Release and evaluation of one biological control agent, the leaf-feeding planthopper Megamelus scutellaris, for biological control of water hyacinth in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and associated river systems in California.
  • Assessment of population size and impact of three previously-released biological control agents of yellow-starthistle, and determination of interactions with plant phylogeographic factors.
  • Determination of interactions and impacts of combined chemical and/or mechanical control and biological control of Cape-ivy and arundo.
  • Assessment of the distribution and current damage on prioritized new weeds to be targeted with biological control, such as ice plant.
  • Determination of the life cycle, host range and impact of candidate biological control agents of French broom in quarantine.


*Info about my research team:

Current lab members include:

Dr. Ellyn Bitume, Postdoctoral Research Entomologist: Biological control of arundo.

Dr. Scott Portman, Postdoctoral Research Entomologist: Biological control of Cape-ivy.

Irene Wibawa, Biological Science Technician

Marlee Little and Dylan Valle Rogers, Biological Science Technician