Review of approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of weed biological control agents

L. Morin, A.M. Reid, N.M. Sims-Chilton, Y.M. Buckley, K. Dhileepan, G.T. Hastwell, Thomas Nordblom, S. Ragu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

92 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

We review key issues, available approaches and analyses to encourage and assist practitioners to develop sound plans to evaluate the effectiveness of weed biological control agents at various phases throughout a program. Assessing the effectiveness of prospective agents before release assists the selection process, while post-release evaluation aims to determine the extent that agents are alleviating the ecological, social and economic impacts of the weeds. Information gathered on weed impacts prior to the initiation of a biological control program is necessary to provide baseline data and devise performance targets against which the program can subsequently be evaluated. Detailed data on weed populations, associated plant communities and, in some instances ecosystem processes collected at representative sites in the introduced range several years before the release of agents can be compared with similar data collected later to assess agent effectiveness. Laboratory, glasshouse and field studies are typically used to assess agent effectiveness. While some approaches used for field studies may be influenced by confounding factors, manipulative experiments where agents are excluded (or included) using chemicals or cages are more robust but time-consuming and expensive to implement. Demographic modeling and benefit'cost analyses are increasingly being used to complement other studies. There is an obvious need for more investment in long-term post-release evaluation of agent effectiveness to rigorously document outcomes of biological control programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Control
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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