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Predicting risk and benefit a priori in biological control of invasive plant species: a systems modelling approach

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Raghu, S., Dhileepan, K. and Scanlan, J.C. (2007) Predicting risk and benefit a priori in biological control of invasive plant species: a systems modelling approach. Ecological Modelling, 208 (2-4). pp. 247-262.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2007.05.022

Publisher URL: http://www.elsevier.com


While the method using specialist herbivores in managing invasive plants (classical biological control) is regarded as relatively safe and cost-effective in comparison to other methods of management, the rarity of strict monophagy among insect herbivores illustrates that, like any management option, biological control is not risk-free. The challenge for classical biological control is therefore to predict risks and benefits a priori. In this study we develop a simulation model that may aid in this process. We use this model to predict the risks and benefits of introducing the chrysomelid beetle Charidotis auroguttata to manage the invasive liana Macfadyena unguis-cati in Australia. Preliminary host-specificity testing of this herbivore indicated that there was limited feeding on a non-target plant, although the non-target was only able to sustain some transitions of the life cycle of the herbivore. The model includes herbivore, target and non-target life history and incorporates spillover dynamics of populations of this herbivore from the target to the non-target under a variety of scenarios. Data from studies of this herbivore in the native range and under quarantine were used to parameterize the model and predict the relative risks and benefits of this herbivore when the target and non-target plants co-occur. Key model outputs include population dynamics on target (apparent benefit) and non-target (apparent risk) and fitness consequences to the target (actual benefit) and non-target plant (actual risk) of herbivore damage. The model predicted that risk to the non-target became unacceptable (i.e. significant negative effects on fitness) when the ratio of target to non-target in a given patch ranged from 1:1 to 3:2. By comparing the current known distribution of the non-target and the predicted distribution of the target we were able to identify regions in Australia where the agent may be pose an unacceptable risk. By considering risk and benefit simultaneously, we highlight how such a simulation modelling approach can assist scientists and regulators in making more objective decisions a priori, on the value of releasing specialist herbivores as biological control agents.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:QPIF, Biosecurity Queensland, DNR&W
Additional Information:© Elsevier.
Keywords:Charidotis auroguttata; invasive species; Macfadyena unguis-cati; Myoporum boninense australe; non-target effects; risk benefit analysis; STELLA; systems models; weed biological control.
Subjects:Science > Statistics > Simulation modelling
Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Science > Invasive Species > Modelling > Plant
Live Archive:22 Oct 2009 00:39
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:48

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