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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439299

Research Project: Development and Implementation of Biological Control Programs for Natural Area Weeds in the Southeastern United States

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

The objectives of this project plan are to develop environmentally safe, self-sustaining methods for the management of invasive weeds of exotic origin that threaten ecologically sensitive aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the United States, with a focus on the southeastern region. The following four objectives are relevant to the NP 304 Action Plan, Component 2 – Weeds; Problem Statement 2B: Biological control and ecosystem research and Problem Statement 2C: Integrated approaches to weed management. Objective 1: Identify and prioritize invasive weeds that negatively affect ecologically sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the southeastern United States. [C2, PS 2C] Objective 2: Survey native habitats of the candidate weeds in their geographical areas of origin for potential biological control agents. Acquire and characterize biological control agents and conduct thorough host-specificity tests informed by molecular phylogeny to determine fundamental host range. [C2, PS 2B] Objective 3: Deploy APHIS-approved biological control agents and evaluate their efficacy by documenting impacts to target weed populations. [C2, PS 2B] Objective 4: Evaluate impact of biological control projects on native plant diversity, invertebrate food webs, and plant disease dynamics at community and landscape levels. Develop integrated methods to improve overall weed management efforts. [C2 PS 2B and 2C]

Biological control research is a dynamic process and thus the proposed research objectives detailed below are often interconnected, flexible, with feedback loops. Although we have presented discrete research objectives in a generalized fashion to accommodate the various weed targets and their natural enemies which are currently under investigation, some may be removed and others added during the life of the proposed 5 yr research project. A Milestone Table has been prepared for each objective which details the hypotheses, scientific assignments, annual goals (milestones), and expected outcomes of the given research activities