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Strategy to control the invasive alien tree Miconia calvescens in Pacific islands: Eradication, containment or something else?

January 1, 2011

Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) is a notorious plant invader in the tropical islands of French Polynesia, Hawaii and New Caledonia. A small tree native to Central and South America, it was first introduced as an ornamental in private botanic gardens in Tahiti (1937), Honolulu (1961), and Nouméa (1970s) where it escaped, became naturalised, and formed dense monospecific stands. More than 80,000 ha are currently invaded in French Polynesia, 10,000 ha in the Hawaiian Islands and 140 ha in New Caledonia. Control programmes have been under way in the Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai) and French Polynesia (Raiatea, Tahaa, Nuku Hiva, Fatu Hiva) since the early 1990s, and in New Caledonia (Province Sud) since 2006. Despite more than 15 years of intensive control efforts and millions of plants destroyed, eradication has not been achieved in any of these islands, mainly because the species has multiple features that thwart its elimination (e.g., prolific seed production, active dispersal by alien and native frugivorous birds, large and persistent soil seed bank, shade-tolerance), combined with the difficulty of detecting and destroying plants on rough terrain and steep slopes, insufficient control frequency, and limited financial and human resources. Miconia’s life cycle requires at least four years growth from seedling to fruiting. Consequently, prevention of fruit production may be an effective management strategy for small populations. This “juvenilization” process may allow the eradication of small populations when carefully conducted over a quarter century. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Strategy to control the invasive alien tree Miconia calvescens in Pacific islands: Eradication, containment or something else?
Authors Jean-Yves Meyer, Lloyd Loope, Anne-Claire Goarant
Publication Type Conference Paper
Index ID 70040344
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center