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Impact of a biological control agent, Chiasmia assimilis, on prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica ssp. indica) seedlings

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Lockett, C. J., Dhileepan, K., Robinson, M. and Pukallus, K. J. (2012) Impact of a biological control agent, Chiasmia assimilis, on prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica ssp. indica) seedlings. Biological Control, 62 (3). pp. 183-188.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2012.04.004

Publisher URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1049964412000904


A leaf-feeding geometrid, Chiasmia assimilis (Warren), was introduced into northern Queensland from South Africa in 2002 as a biological control agent for the invasive woody weed, prickly acacia, Acacia nilotica subsp. indica (Bentham) Brenan. The insect established in infestations in coastal areas between the townships of Ayr and Bowen where the larvae periodically cause extensive defoliation at some localities during summer and autumn. The impact of this herbivory on a number of plant parameters, including shoot length, basal stem diameter, root length, number of leaves, number of branches, and above and below ground biomass was investigated at one coastal site through an insect exclusion trial using potted seedlings and regular spray applications of a systemic insecticide to exclude the biological control agent. Half the seedlings, both sprayed and unsprayed, were placed beneath the prickly acacia canopy, the other half were placed in full sunlight. Larvae of C. assimilis were found on unsprayed seedlings in both situations. The effects of herbivory, however, were significant only for seedlings grown beneath the canopy. At the end of the five-month trial period, shoot length of these seedlings was reduced by 30%, basal stem diameter by 44%, root length by 15%, number of leaves by 97%, above ground biomass by 87%, and below ground biomass by 77% when compared to sprayed seedlings. Implications are that the insect, where established, may reduce seedling growth beneath existing canopies and in turn may help limit the formation of dense infestations. Crown Copyright (C) 2012 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Prickly acacia Acacia nilotica subsp indica Chiasmia assimilis Exclusion trial Herbivory AUSTRALIA HERBIVORY GROWTH
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Live Archive:03 Jul 2013 02:25
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:49

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