Research has already shown that invasive species tend to be more tolerant to environmental stress than related non-invasive species. However, a recent study published in Biological Invasions, set out to discover whether this stress tolerance was an inherent trait or whether it was something acquired en route from their natural habitat to the new one.
It was back in the early 1990s, on my first field trip to Assam in North-east India, with invasion ecologist Dr. Sean T. Murphy, when I first encountered mikania growing as an invasive weed. Until then, I had only seen this vine in its Central and South American native range, where locating a population of the plant could sometimes take all day.
The town of Livingstone, in the Southern Province of Zambia is world renowned for its magnificent views of the Victoria Falls. Annually, thousands of visitors flock this town to awe at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A few kilometres away from this picturesque view lies Kazungula, a small border town between Zambia and Botswana, on the north bank of the Zambezi River. This area is lucky to have plenty of rain, and the residual moisture that remains in the soil enables farmers to plant a second crop of maize, referred to locally as “winter maize”. What would seemingly be a blessing has, however, become a quandary for the thousands of maize growers in Kazungula. The invasion of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperdainto this area has conspired against the farmers to ensure they do not exploit this natural resource to its fullest benefit. First reported by Zambia to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in early 2017, fall armyworm is present in all ten of Zambia’s provinces and continues to rampage the country unabatedly.
Research is currently underway to study new ways of encapsulating and applying entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) to better combat the invasive and destructive fall armyworm in Africa.
PhD student Patrick Fallet is investigating the possibility of a novel biocontrol approach which will attract the armyworm caterpillars to beads containing biocontrol agents such as the insect-killing EPN.
By Dr Pablo L. Plaza, Dr Karina L. Speziale, and Dr Sergio A. Lambertucci
In the current global climate of excess waste production around the world, there is great concern about how waste and dump sites could be a global problem, especially because the amount of global waste is only set to increase in the near future. At the moment, 3 million tonnes of waste is discarded around the world every day and by 2025, that total is expected to double.
Air pollution and contamination of water corps and soil with a range of toxins are common problems associated with the management of dump sites. Added to this is the presence of infectious pathogens in these sites, which can cause disease outbreaks for the communities living near to a rubbish dump site and even those in more distant areas.
CABI scientists have joined an international team of experts who suggest that the large-scale management of a range of some invasive plants could hold the key to reducing the spread of deadly malaria.
Dr Arne Witt and Dr Sean Murphy worked with scientists from the University of Illinois, The Ohio State University and the Fundación para el Estudio de Especies Invasivas (FuEDEI) in Argentina, to conduct a review of existing studies which looked at how mosquitoes are attracted to both land and water-based invasive plants such as water hyacinth, floating pennywort and prosopis and how best these invasive plants can be managed.