Saturday, February 19, 2005

152: Using Co-evolution to combat invasive species

Moth Released to Curb Spread of Climbing Fern | Science Blog:

Climbing fern is native to the Old World tropics including Australia, Africa, tropical Asia and the Pacific Islands but doesn't cause problems in those areas, probably because natural enemies help keep it in check. Searching for natural enemies of the fern in its native habitat, scientists at the ARS Australian Biological Control Laboratory in Indooroopilly identified several promising candidates, including A[ustromusotima] camptonozale. Then they tested these biocontrol candidates to make sure they would only feed on the fern and not on other, nontarget plants.
Climbing ferns under control elsewhere because the evolved in a particular ecosystem. Without the predators it evolved a response too, it goes wild. Evolutionary (and ecological) theory predicts how to combat the climbing ferns, introduce a predator it evolved with. Let's hope it works.