Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory2009 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
To discover and identify natural enemies of Lygodium in its native range, conduct host specificity testing on promising enemies, petitioning for the release of suitable biocontrol agents with the potential for controlling Lygodium, colonizing the agents, and monitoring their effects on the target weed and on non-target vegetation.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Research will be conducted in the Australian Biological Control Laboratory in Brisbane and in the Austral-Southeast Asian Region and will focus on the discovery and identification and prelimary host range testing of promising biological control agents. Full host specificity testing will be conducted in domestic quarantine, after which appropriate agents will be petition for release, then after permission to release is obtained, mass reared, colonized and then monitored to determine their establishment and potential impact on Lygodium and non-target vegetation.
3. Progress Report
This project relates to the objective of the inhouse project: Prioritizing and evaluating suitable target species for control; conducting surveys to discover natural enemies; studying the ecology of target species and determining the impact of their suppression on ecosystems; conducting risk analysis of potential biological control organisms; and releasing, establishing, evaluating, and transferring biological control agents against target species. The support was for research on detection and preliminary study of natural enemies in Australia by the Australian Biological Control Laboratory, host specificity testing in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida quarantine, and the colonization of permitted biological control agents in Florida. Support of Australian efforts were directed to help fund the collection of the Hong Kong stem-borer and for developing cultures of the insect in quarantine in Australian. Collections were successfully made but continuous cultivation of the moth in quarantine has not yet been achieved. Funding enabled the host range testing of the Thai sawfly, Neostromboceros albicomus, to be completed in the Fort Lauderdale, Quarantine. A release petition based on this research, which showed that the sawfly has the needed specificity, has been submitted. The colonization effort for the leaf-feeding moth, Neomusotima conspurcatalis, continued and resulted in both in establishment and the development of high numbers of insects at the release sites. The large number of caterpillars defoliated large patches of the weed including both the horizontal growth blanketing the under story, and the large masses of vines climbing into the forest canopy. Attempts to colonize a second agent, the lygodium gall mite, Floracarus perrepae, led to provisional establishment at several sites.