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Title: After biocontrol: assessing indirect effects of insect releases

Author: Denslow, Julie S.; D'Antonio, Carla M.;

Date: 2005

Source: Biological Control, Vol. 35: 307-318

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Development of biological control agents for weeds has been motivated by the need to reduce the abundance and distribution of a pest plant where chemical and mechanical control were not cost effective. Primary objectives have been direct reduction in abundance of the target and, secondarily, the increase of desirable species. Recently, wildland weeds have become a focus of biological control projects. Here, desired outcomes include both reduction of the target and indirect effects of increased diversity and abundance of native species and restoration of ecosystem services. However, goals and benefits of biocontrol programs are not always well-articulated and direct and indirect impacts are not easily predicted. We evaluated the extent to which several successful biological control projects for weeds of rangelands and waterways measured indirect impacts on invaded ecosystems. We also examined biocontrol of a wildland pest tree for which the principal objective is restoration of ecosystem services. We found few quantitative assessments of the impacts of pest plant reduction on community composition or ecosystem processes. All examples documented variation in the impacts of agent(s) across the invasive range of the target plant as well as variation in impacts on the invaded ecosystem. However, without appropriate quantitative information, we cannot evaluate site characteristics that may influence vegetation responses. Most successful weed management programs integrated the use of biocontrol agents with other weed management strategies, especially modifications of disturbance and competing vegetation. Discussion and evaluation of responses of nontarget species would improve our understanding of the context-specificity of outcomes.

Keywords: direct effects, invasive plants, nontarget impacts, target plants, vegetation management, post-release assessments

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Denslow, Julie S.; D''Antonio, Carla M. 2005. After biocontrol: assessing indirect effects of insect releases. Biological Control, Vol. 35: 307-318


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