Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2005
Publication Date: 12/1/2005
Citation: Carruthers, R.I., D'Antonio, C.M. 2005. Biological control - theory and application of pest management. Biological Control. 35(3):181-388
Interpretive Summary: Biological control is an ecologically powerful tool used extensively by scientists and land managers to control invasive plants and insect pests. Although most biological control programs have been successful with few if any negative effects to the environment, some conservationists have worried that negative side effects may be damaging non-target populations of other organism or habitats in general. To aid in gaining a better understanding of the issues involved, the USDA-ARS hosted an invitational workshop in cooperation with the US Department of Interior, National Park Service, and other cooperating groups to discuss and codify participant views. This entire issue of the Journal Biological Control is devoted to papers discussed at that workshop, and potential solutions that were presented to help ensure that biological control practices would be both safe and effective.
Technical Abstract: By design, biological control agents once introduced into the natural environment, are expected to attach specific target organisms, reproduce in the local area and then spread to other adjacent areas. Through this process, many invasive pest species are successfully controlled at a minimum of cost. The US Department of Agriculture and others have been using biological control for over 100 years with many documented successes. Occasionally, unpredicted and/or unwanted non-target side effects have been noted and thus concern has been raised as to the extent of these problems and their overall environmental impacts. Both direct and indirect implications have been identified in theory and some observational studies have documented at least some examples where such unwanted impacts have been found. Over the past decade, a low level debate between those responsible for pest management control programs and those interested in conservation biology and the maintenance of a healthy environment has ensued with little resolution to issues at hand. Both groups agree that first, biological control is not risk free, as are no methods of pest control (i.e. pesticide application, physical removal of habitat, cultivation, etc.), nor is doing nothing a healthy proposition for native species and habitats being overrun by an exotic invasive species. Although some positive dialog has occurred, little has been done to establish common ground to optimize the use of biological control for the benefit on natural environments. To help resolve this impasse, USDA and USDI agreed to host a joint workshop to discuss concerns and present potential solutions to such problems. This Special Issue of Biological Control thus examines this topic area focusing on the use of Benefit Risk Assessment to help clarify the situation and assist land managers in making the correct choices when considering the use of biological control.