Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory2011 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Mass rear biological control agents of invasive weeds and rapidly disperse them throughout the CERP landscape.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Biological control agents for use against invasive plants (e.g., Melaleuca, Lygodium, Schinus, Casuarina) in the greater Everglades region will be mass reared and dispersed into 11 x 11mi grid cells within the geographic boundaries of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Release sites will be monitored for population persistence, insect migration, and plant damage.
3. Progress Report
This research relates to in-house objective 5: Release, establish, evaluate efficacy, and corroborate experimental safety of approved biological control agents and develop and distribute the technology to customers in order to expedite their adoption and deployment. The Everglades ecosystem of southern Florida constitutes a unique and irreplaceable milieu of natural habitats whose ecological integrity has been seriously damaged by more than a century of anthropogenic activities including agriculture, development, and accompanying hydrologic alterations. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) seeks to restore, preserve, and protect this World Heritage ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region. This project is a part of the CERP efforts and represents a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the South Florida Water Management District, and the USDA, ARS. One important factor contributing to the degradation of the Everglades ecosystem is the presence of invasive exotic plants that compete with and, in many cases, out-compete native plant species. The mission of the USDA, ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) is to develop biological control agents that halt the spread of invasive plants within the Everglades, interfere with their reproductive success, and reduce their competitive advantages over native species. As a first step to enhancing the IPRL’s ability to develop biological control agents for release in the Everglades, the USACE will construct an annex adjacent to the existing IPRL facility. Progress on this project includes the completion of the design of the building, and a ground-breaking ceremony held in May 2011. IPRL staff are active participants in the design team, and have begun developing an operations manual that will describe the procedures to be used in the annex and in the field to assure maximum biological control agent presence and impacts throughout the Everglades.