|Konstantinov, Alexander - Alex|
Submitted to: Proceedings of the International Congress on Biological Control Weeds
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2003
Publication Date: 10/10/2004
Citation: Zaitzev, V.F., Reznik, S.Y., Volkovitxh, M.G., Dolgovskaya, M.Y., Konstantinov, A.S., Spencer, N.R. 2004. Prospects for the search for weed biocontrol agents in Russia. Proceedings of the International Congress on Biological Control Weeds. 1:203-207 Interpretive Summary: Leaf beetles are among the most agriculturally important insects to the U.S. Many are serious pests feeding on crops and destroying valuable plants; others are important biological control agents that can be used to control noxious weeds. This paper reports on biological control investigations in Russia. It mentions several existing projects (leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow star thistle, hoary cress, etc.) most of which involve various leaf beetles. The study will be useful to biological control workers, taxonomists, ecologists, and anyone interested in using phytophagous beetles to control various invasive weeds.
Technical Abstract: Exotic invasive weeds are a major problem in agriculture, forestry and natural areas, posing a threat to biodiversity conservation. Introduction of natural enemies is one of the most efficient and biologically safe methods to control these plants. However, biological control of weeds has a rather low `success rate,' i.e. the percentage of the research programs resulting in successful introductions. Finding a potential biocontrol agent with the required host specificity and efficacy is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. The probability of finding a suitable control agent clearly increases when searching in the target weed¿s native range. Invasive weeds of Palearctic origin constitute a major portion of weed problems in the Nearctic region and elsewhere. Specifically, 33 of 37 invasive North American weed species recorded in 10 or more US states originated from the Palearctic. Inside the Palearctic region, these species are almost evenly distributed between three regions: (1) Western and Central Europe, (2) Eastern Europe and Middle East, and (3) European part of Russia, including North Caucasus. A little less often, South-Western Siberia, and rarely, South-Eastern Siberia are included as a `cradleland¿ of North American weeds. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of biocontrol agents introduced into North America (same as in Australia) are from Western and Central Europe (ca 70%) and from Eastern Europe and Middle East (ca 20%). Only 4% of past introductions have come from ecological explorations conducted in Russia. This imbalance, a result of political problems that no longer exist, provides new opportunities for both old and new weed targets of Palearctic origin. To support this conclusion, the results of exploration in Russia targeted several invasive weeds (leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, etc.) and the potential for additional research programs targeting problem weeds throughout the world are described.