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Overcoming barriers to the successful implementation of a classical biological control strategy for the exotic invasive weed Mikania micrantha in the Asia-Pacific region

Ellison, C.A. and Day, M.D. and Witt, A. (2014) Overcoming barriers to the successful implementation of a classical biological control strategy for the exotic invasive weed Mikania micrantha in the Asia-Pacific region. In: Proceedings of the XIV International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, 2 - 7 March 2014 , University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa.

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Abstract

Mikania micrantha (Asteraceae) commonly known as mikania, is a major invasive alien plant (IAP) in the tropical humid agricultural and forest zones of the Asia-Pacific region. This fast-growing Neotropical vine is able to smother plants in agricultural ecosystems, agroforestry and natural habitats, reducing productivity and biodiversity. Fungal pathogens were first investigated for the classical biological control of this weed in 1996. This resulted in the selection and screening of the highly host-specific and damaging rust pathogen, Puccinia spegazzinii (Pucciniales). It was first released in India and China in 2005/6, although it is not believed to have established. Since then, it has been released successfully in Taiwan, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji and most recently Vanuatu. The rust has established and is spreading rapidly after applying lessons learned from the first releases on the best rust pathotype and release strategy. In PNG, direct monitoring of vegetation change has demonstrated that the rust is having a significant impact on M. micrantha, with no unpredicted non-target impacts.
Despite this, the authorities in many countries where mikania is a problem remain cautious about releasing the rust. In Western Samoa, introduction of the rust was not pursued because of a conflict of interest, and the perception that mikania suppresses even worse weeds. For some, ‘pathophobia’ is still a major obstacle. In Indonesia, where insects for weed CBC have been introduced, pathogens will currently not be considered. In other countries such as Bhutan and Myanmar, there are no baseline data on the presence and impact of IAPs and, with no history of CBC, no institutional framework for implementing this approach. Malaysia has a well-developed framework, but capacity needs to be built in the country. Overall, it remains critical to have champions at decision making levels. Hence, even with an effective ‘off-the-shelf’ agent available, implementation of mikania CBC still requires significant inputs tailored to the countries’ specific needs.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:classical biological control; invasive non-native plant; integrated weed management; mikania weed; rust fungus; Puccinia spegazzinii
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Deposited On:21 Jan 2015 07:02
Last Modified:21 Jan 2015 07:02

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