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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tamarisk biocontrol in the western United States: ecological and societal implications

item Hultine, Kevin
item Belnap, Jayne
item Van Riper Iii, Charles
item Ehleringer, James
item Dennison, Philip
item Lee, Martha
item Nagler, Pamela
item Snyder, Keirith
item Uselman, Shauna
item West, Jason

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2009
Publication Date: 11/4/2009
Citation: Hultine, K.R., Belnap, J., Van Riper III, C., Ehleringer, J.R., Dennison, P.E., Lee, M.E., Nagler, P.L., Snyder, K.A., Uselman, S.M., West, J.B. 2010. Tamarisk biocontrol in the western United States: ecological and societal implications. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 8(9):467-474.

Interpretive Summary: The control of tamarisk trees and shrubs from rivers, streams, and wetlands in the western United States is now a significant priority among many local, state and federal agencies. Recent releases of the saltcedar leaf beetle have shown considerable promise for controlling tamarisk over large areas, but may also have unintended impacts on highly valued riparian ecosystems. We strongly encourage additional monitoring of ecosystem services to improve efforts for successful remediation of tamarisk-invaded riparian ecosystems. Restoration and future control efforts would benefit from the timely establishment of a comprehensive policy and research framework to address potential impacts of biocontrol beyond tamarisk reduction through collaboration with scientists, land managers, and stakeholders.

Technical Abstract: Tamarisk (Tamarix) species are among the most successful plant invaders in the western United States. At the same time tamarisk has been cited as having enormous economic costs. Accordingly, local, state and federal agencies have undertaken considerable efforts to eradicate this invasive plant and restore riparian habitats to pre-invasion status. Traditional eradication methods, including herbicide treatments are now considered undesirable because they are costly and often have unintended negative impacts on native species. A new biological control agent, the saltcedar leaf beetle Diorhabda elongata, has been released along many watersheds in the western United States to reduce the extent of tamarisk cover in riparian areas. However, the use of this insect as biological control may have unintended ecological, hydrological, and socio-economic consequences that should be anticipated as restoration efforts are undertaken by land managers and stakeholders. Here, we examine the possible ramifications of tamarisk control and offer recommendations to reduce potential negative impacts on valued riparian systems in the western United States.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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