, Volume 125, Issue 4, pp 489-494

Predictable risk to native plants in weed biological control

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Data on field host use of 112 insects, 3 fungi, 1 mite, and 1 nematode established for biological control of weeds in Hawaii, the continental United States, and the Caribbean indicate that the risk to native flora can be judged reliably before introduction. Virtually all risk is borne by native plant species that are closely related to target weeds. Fifteen species of insects introduced for biological control use 41 native plant species; 36 of which are congeneric with target weeds, while 4 others belong to two closely allied genera. Only 1 of 117 established biological organisms uses a native plant unrelated to the target weed. Thus the elements of protection for the native flora are the selection of weed targets that have few or no native congeners and the introduction of biological control organisms with suitably narrow diets.

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