Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376802

Research Project: Watershed-scale Assessment of Pest Dynamics and Implications for Area-wide Management of Invasive Insects and Weeds

Location: Invasive Species and Pollinator Health

Title: Abiotic and biotic influences on the performance of two biological control agents, Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California (USA)

Author
item HOPPER, JULIE - UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
item Pratt, Paul
item Reddy, Angelica
item McCue, Kent
item RIVAS, SOMANETTE
item GROSHOLZ, EDWIN - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/26/2020
Publication Date: 11/30/2020
Citation: Hopper, J.V., Pratt, P.D., Reddy, A.M., McCue, K.F., Rivas, S.O., Grosholz, E.D. 2020. Abiotic and biotic influences on the performance of two biological control agents, Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California (USA). Biological Control. 153. Article 104495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2020.104495.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2020.104495

Interpretive Summary: Variability in the effectiveness of biological control programs can be due to a myriad of abiotic and biotic interactions. Here, we explore these interactions in relation to the less than optimum biological control on the invasive water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, by two weevils, Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California, USA (Delta). We conducted monthly surveys from 2015-2017 throughout 1667 km2 to analyze the impacts of temperature, nutrients, river flow, pathogens and genetic variation in relation to the performance of these biological control agents. Weevils (predominantly N. bruchi) demonstrated a positive numerical response to increased nitrogen content in water hyacinth roots. Weevil densities and water hyacinth biomass declined significantly during periods of high river flow. We found negative impacts of cooler temperatures on weevil performance, with a significant lagged-response of weevil densities in the field to water temperature from three months prior and a lack of population growth under laboratory conditions simulating winter air temperatures in the Delta (averaging 8.0 °C). We confirmed the presence of a microsporidian pathogen, with 10.7% average prevalence of infection across four seasons and low infection loads. In addition, we found low genetic diversity of N. bruchi in the Delta compared to native populations, and low population genetic structure and a lack of genetic isolation by distance among metapopulations. Overall we conclude that cooler temperatures and periods of high river flow are likely the main factors limiting the current biological control program in the Delta.

Technical Abstract: Variability in the effectiveness of biological control programs can be due to a myriad of abiotic and biotic interactions. Here, we explore these interactions in relation to the less than optimum biological control on the invasive water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, by two weevils, Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California, USA (Delta). We conducted monthly surveys from 2015-2017 throughout 1667 km2 to analyze the impacts of temperature, nutrients, river flow, pathogens and genetic variation in relation to the performance of these biological control agents. Weevils (predominantly N. bruchi) demonstrated a positive numerical response to increased nitrogen content in water hyacinth roots. Weevil densities and water hyacinth biomass declined significantly during periods of high river flow. We found negative impacts of cooler temperatures on weevil performance, with a significant lagged-response of weevil densities in the field to water temperature from three months prior and a lack of population growth under laboratory conditions simulating winter air temperatures in the Delta (averaging 8.0 °C). We confirmed the presence of a microsporidian pathogen, with 10.7% average prevalence of infection across four seasons and low infection loads. In addition, we found low genetic diversity of N. bruchi in the Delta compared to native populations, and low population genetic structure and a lack of genetic isolation by distance among metapopulations. Overall we conclude that cooler temperatures and periods of high river flow are likely the main factors limiting the current biological control program in the Delta.