Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher Calls For More Careful Use Of Biological Controls

Date:
August 27, 1997
Source:
University Of California, Davis
Summary:
Using introduced plants or animals to attack undesirable species, though a valuable tool for agriculture and conservation, can cause widespread damage to native organisms.

Using introduced plants or animals to attack undesirable species, though a valuable tool for agriculture and conservation, can cause widespread damage to native organisms. Too little attention is paid to that potential "dark side" when biological-control projects are approved in the United States, says an authority on plant-insect interactions at the University of California, Davis.

Donald R. Strong, a highly respected UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology, examines new evidence of "biocontrol gone haywire" in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal Science.

Strong reviews a report in the same issue from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, that a Eurasian weevil widely released in the United States and Canada has sometimes reduced its target population -- non-native thistle plants that overrun livestock grazing areas -- but also turned its appetite to five native thistle species.

Some of the native plants' seed production has been cut by 86 percent, dramatically hurting the plant's ability to reproduce. The weevil also appears to be pushing aside native picture-wing flies, which normally feed on the native thistles' flower heads.

And the weevil's distribution has expanded substantially, both naturally and through introductions that continue today. Since it was first released in 1968, the Eurasian weevil has been found in 24 states from California to New Jersey, and every Canadian province except Alberta.

Strong writes that the collateral attacks should come as no surprise: They have occurred in similar biocontrol projects, and there was evidence before the weevil releases began that the Eurasian bugs would like North American cuisine.

Carefully planned biological control, Strong writes, can provide great economic benefit, reduce the use of chemical pesticides, and even protect native species against non-native predators or competitors. However, he said in an interview, too few biocontrol projects get the requisite care.

"This is a huge policy issue for the United States," Strong said. "There's tremendous pressure from the agriculture industry -- and the industries that supply agricultural biological controls -- to find new agents, release them, and then go find more, without adequate study of their effects.

"It is important for us to start a broad public discussion about the conservation and environmental issues surrounding biological control."

In the Science article, Strong says it's essential to establish experimentally that the proposed control agent has an extremely limited "host range" -- that its food preferences will keep it focused on its intended target, not native species.

"Biological control is an important arrow in the quiver of pest management, perhaps the only arrow in some cases of pests of grave concern," Strong writes in conclusion. "However, willy-nilly biological control without regard for environmental costs" can clearly have serious consequences.

Media contacts: -- Donald R. Strong, UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, (707) 875-2211, drstrong@ucdavis.edu. -- Sylvia Wright, News Service, (916) 752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu.

Additional source: -- Mary Louise Flint, director of integrated pest management education and publications, UC Davis, (916) 752-7692, mlflint@ucdavis.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Davis. "Researcher Calls For More Careful Use Of Biological Controls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970827055400.htm>.
University Of California, Davis. (1997, August 27). Researcher Calls For More Careful Use Of Biological Controls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970827055400.htm
University Of California, Davis. "Researcher Calls For More Careful Use Of Biological Controls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970827055400.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima on Monday as rescuers expanded their search for dozens still missing from landslides around the western Japanese city that killed at least 50 people. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins