Grasses as appropriate targets in weed biocontrol: is the common reed, Phragmites australis, an anomaly?
Date of Original Version
Despite their importance as invasive species, there has been a hesitation to target grasses in classical biocontrol. This historic bias appears to be changing with multiple active research and release programs. Similarly, biocontrol workers appear to avoid targeting species with native congeners. These biases appear inappropriate as the ecological and entomological literature provide abundant evidence for sub-genus specificity for many herbivores, including those attacking grasses. The biocontrol program targeting Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud (Poaceae) provides an informative example with endemic subspecies in North America and many sub-genus specific herbivores, including potential European control agents. Grasses and target weeds with congeneric native species require rigorous host range testing, similar to all other targets in current weed biological control programs. Furthermore, it appears prudent to ask petition reviewers and regulatory agencies to abandon their focus on results of no-choice studies and to distinguish between trivial feeding and demographic impacts.
Publication Title, e.g., Journal
Casagrande, Richard A., Patrick Häfliger, Hariet L. Hinz, Lisa Tewksbury, and Bernd Blossey. "Grasses as appropriate targets in weed biocontrol: is the common reed, Phragmites australis, an anomaly?." BioControl 63, 3 (2018). doi: 10.1007/s10526-018-9871-y.