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Less is more: Less herbicide does more when biological control is present in Pontederia crassipes

November 17, 2023

An experiment along with simulation modeling was applied to study the combinations of herbicide treatment and biological control that best limit invasive water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes, formerly Eichhornia crassipes) in freshwater aquatic systems. The experiment consisted of 14 different treatments of P. crassipes in 1.67 m2 outdoor tank mesocosms. Seven treatments were with and seven were without insect biological control agents, Neochetina eichhorniae. In both of the sets of seven treatments, there was one no-herbicide treatment, a one-time full-strength herbicide treatment with 40 %, 80 % and 100 % coverage of the P. crassipes, and a one-time half-strength herbicide treatment with 40 %, 80 %, and 100 % surface area coverage. An overarching hypothesis was that leaving part of a tank unsprayed, providing habitat for the maintenance of biological control agents, would optimize control. Data from the experiment, measured on five days over the 167-day period, were used to calibrate a difference equation model of P. crassipes with and without the biological control agent. The model was then used to project longer term dynamics of the system. The model predicted that an initial one-time herbicide treatment, combined with application of the biocontrol agent at 80 % areal coverage, could maintain P. crassipes at levels lower than the carrying capacity of the plant's biomass over the long term, though not enough that N. eichhorniae would be considered, by itself, a highly effective control. However, the results suggest that a combination of biocontrol with 80 % spraying coverage every 600 days or so would be an effective integrated biocontrol strategy for maintaining decreased P. crassipes biomass at low levels over the long term.

Publication Year 2023
Title Less is more: Less herbicide does more when biological control is present in Pontederia crassipes
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2023.110566
Authors Linhao Xu, Ashley B.C. Goode, Philip W. Tipping, Melissa C. Smith, Lyn A. Gettys, Brittany K. Knowles, Eileen Pokorny, Luz Salinas, Don DeAngelis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Modelling
Index ID 70250515
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center