The establishment, biological success and host impact of Diorhabda elongata, imported biological control agents of invasive Tamarix in the United States
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Diorhabda elongata elongata leaf beetles were released at two field locations in the upper Colorado River watershed of Texas in 2003 and 2004 for the biological control of invasive Tamarix, exotic trees deteriorating riparian ecosystems of western North America. Establishment and biological success were monitored using trees on transects from the release points. D. elongata elongata released at the Lake Thomas site in August 2003 successfully overwintered and were recovered in the spring 2004; however, beetles were not present after June 2004. The April 2004 release at Beals Creek led to establishment and survival during 2005 and 2006. Mean abundance increased from less than five insects per tree per 2 minute count in August 2004 to more than 40 insects per tree per 2 minute count in August 2006. By then the population was dispersed throughout an area of approximately 12 hectares and beetles were present on 100% of the 47 trees surveyed, 57% of which were at least 90% defoliated. To measure the impact of beetle defoliation on Tamarix, nonstructural carbohydrates (NCHOs) were measured in manipulative field cage experiments in Texas and natural experiments in Nevada. There was no significant difference in NCHOs between trees with versus trees without beetle herbivory in the cage experiment, although spring foliage regrowth was reduced by 35% in trees defoliated the previous fall. In Nevada, root crown tissue was sampled in 2005 and 2006 from trees that had experienced 0-4 years of defoliation. In 2005, NCHO concentrations differed between tree stands and ranged from 9.0 ± 0.8% (Mean ± SE) in non-defoliated trees to 3.2 ± 0.4%, 2.1 ± 0.4% and 2.3 ± 0.4% in trees defoliated for 1, 2 and 3 successive years, respectively. NCHO concentrations in 2006 were similar, ranging from 13.6 ± 0.9% in non-defoliated trees to 7.6 ± 0.8%, 2.3 ± 0.4%, 1.5 ± 0.3% and 1.7 ± 0.4% in trees defoliated for 1, 2, 3 and 4 years, respectively. The establishment, biological success and host impact of D. elongata leaf beetles suggest there is potential for biological control of Tamarix in the United States.
SubjectDiorhabda elongata; biological control weeds; Tamarix; saltcedar; defoliation; carbohydrate reserves; nonstructural carbohydrates
Hudgeons, Jeremy L. (2007). The establishment, biological success and host impact of Diorhabda elongata, imported biological control agents of invasive Tamarix in the United States. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from