Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To utilize Student Conservation Association members to assist in research related to development of weed biological control of invasive weeds.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Student Conservation Association participants are assigned a variety of projects depending on their Student Conservation Program experience, interests and arrival dates. Participants will gain experience with scientists and technicians and will be exposed to various environmental problems and potential solutions.
3. Progress Report:
The Brazilian pepper biocontrol project agreement (Agreement No. 59-6629-8-118) between Students Conservation Association and USDA-ARS, Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) represents a part of the statewide Brazilian pepper management efforts in Florida. Additional details for the research can be found in the report for the parent project 6629-22000-011-03R. This research directly related to inhouse 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, waterlettuce and skunk vine. Invasive weeds have invaded the Everglades ecosystem decreasing its biodiversity. Biological controls of these weeds will be developed by the introduction of safe insects that reduce weed vigor. Student interns assisted in laboratory tasks that supported quarantine risk assessment of prospective biological control agents of the invasive weed Brazilian pepper, Schinus terebinthifolius. Specifically their duties include maintaining laboratory colonies of quarantine biological control candidates, propagation of host plants for raising insects and test plants for conducting the experiments. Additionally, the interns assist in the collection of experimental data and in the data entry of the results. The interns assisted in the testing a moth species, Crasimorpha infuscata and a Crasimorpha n. sp. The interns assisted in summarizing previous release data of this insect, a fruit feeding beetle, and a leaf rolling moth in HI during an earlier period. Approved biological controls will reduce the health and vigor of these invasive weeds, reduce their damage to natural areas and agriculture, and reduce dependence on synthetic herbicides.