Submitted to: Castanea
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Invasive weeds threaten many natural environments in the southeastern U.S. Biological control is a very suitable method of control for many of these weeds because, unlike mechanical and chemical control, it does not affect the vegetation with which the weeds grow. Nineteen weeds were analyzed to examine their relataive suitability as subjects for biological control research. Plant characteristics that help predict the abundance of natural enemies associated with the weeds (which increase the chances of success), and others related to the number of valued relatives of the weeds that grow in the problem region (which may limit success) were used. Some weeds, such as Australian pine, appear to be excellent targets, while others, such as tropical soda apple, are less suitable subjects.
Technical Abstract: The integrity of many natural environments in the southeastern United States is being threatened by invasive plants. Biological control offers a selective method for the control of weeds because the insects and diseases it employs effect no, or only a few, nontarget species. This contribution evaluates the suitability of the biological control method for the 19 invasive weeds. Criteria that can help predict the number of natural enemies associated with a weed are: (1) size of the plant's native range, (2) commonness of the plant in its native range, (3) number of congeneric species in the world, (4) and the natural enemies already known. Criteria that help predict conflicts with valued plants, which can limit the biological control approach, are the number of congeneric species and important economic relatives the U.S. The relative seriousness of the weed (not examined here) and the degree to which practical controls exist determine the need for biological control.