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Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
Contact Information
  • Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
  • 333 Broadway SE. Suite 115
  • Albuquerque, NM 87102-3497
  • 505-724-3660
  • 505-724-3688 (fax)
You are here: Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems / Research by Project / Integrating Chemical Ecology and Biological Control

Integrating Chemical Ecology and Biological Control of Invasive Plants

Project Title

Integrating Chemical Ecology and Biological Control of Invasive Plants

Abstract

Measuring changes in tansy ragwort volatiles
Measuring changes in tansy ragwort volatiles released in response to feeding by tansy ragwort flea beetle

Biological control is one of the few tools capable of managing widespread exotic plant invasions, which, at its most successful, can offer long-term solutions to weed problems. However, some biological control agents obtain approval and are released, but fail to impact weed populations. This is troublesome because exploration, testing, and approval for each agent take many years and is estimated to cost several millions of dollars to complete. Moreover, ineffective agents can persist and cause unwanted ecological changes in the communities in which they occur. A major goal of my research is to better understand the interactions between biocontrol agents and their invasive host plants to identify the factors which promote or limit successful biocontrol. My approach is to apply the chemical ecology of plant-herbivore interactions to classical biological control of weeds two fields which have largely progressed independently to date. Chemistry plays a central role in determining ecological outcomes between plants and insects, and should provide information that can be used to better predict which potential agents are most likely to be effective.

Invasive plant species currently under study include rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea), houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale), and tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).

GSD Principal Investigators

Runyon, Justin    Research Entomologist    406-994-4872

Cooperators and Sponsors

David Weaver, Montana State University

Related Links

Rush Skeletonweed

Houndstongue

Tansy Ragwort

Collecting rush skeletonweed volatiles in the field
Collecting rush skeletonweed volatiles in the field
Project Focal Areas