Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2006
Publication Date: 8/15/2006
Citation: Wiggers, M.S., Pratt, P.D., Tonkel, K. 2006. Regrowth suppression of the invasive tree melaleuca quinquenervia using integrated biological and mechanical control.. Ecological Society of America Proceedings. Interpretive Summary: Melaleuca quinquenervia is a native of eastern Australia and was been introduced to various locations around the world. One hundred years after its introduction into Florida, melaleuca grows spontaneously and displaces native plants as well as animals in the wetlands that comprise the Florida Everglades. In an effort to curb the invasion of this weed, scientists have identified natural enemies or biological control agents that help in the suppression of melaleuca. This article provides details on the impacts of introduced biological control agents Oxyops vitiosa and Boreioglycaspis melaleucae on melaleuca regrowth and survival.
Technical Abstract: The Australian native, Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake (Myrtaceae) has invaded nearly 200,000 ha of South Florida. Intensive and costly control programs are currently attempting to curb this invasive tree’s threat to South Florida’s native and agricultural systems. A number of these efforts use integrated pest management strategies—widely accepted as the most effective and sustainable methods for controlling invasive weeds—including a variety of mechanical, chemical, and biological control methods. At the time of this study, two biological control agents of M. quinquenervia had been released: Oxyops vitiosa Pascoe (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) and Borieoglycaspis melaleucae Moore (Hemiptera: Psyllidae). Our study’s goals were to 1) assess the influence of herbivory by the biological control agents on the regenerative capacity of M. quinquenervia from cut stumps; 2) determine the impact of periodic pruning on this regenerative capacity; and 3) assess the interaction of herbivory and pruning treatments. Pruning and herbivory treatments were applied in a fully factorial design to stump regrowth of 40 M. quinquenervia trees from 2002 – 2004 at a field site near Estero, Florida. Results of our study indicate that herbivory and repeated pruning significantly suppress regeneration of M. quinquenervia, reducing both biomass and height of regrowth. Additionally, mortality over the course of the study increased with pruning and herbivory treatments. These results indicate that integrating biological control agents with periodic mechanical harvesting can successfully suppress regrowth of M. quinquenervia.