Invasive species are of significant concern to ecosystems. They are a key driver of global biodiversity loss and species extinctions. Together with climate change, invasive species are causing irreversible damage. Without any mitigation, the spread of invasives will continue and the persistent damaging effects will increase and remain. Having current and comprehensive data on the most harmful and impactful invasive species is necessary for predicting and preventing damage. This project will collate data and information on 72 invasive species threatening species on the Endangered Species Act and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Yellow floating heart, Nymphoides peltata, was introduced in North America in the late 19th century as an ornamental plant. Since its introduction, it has steadily spread and been repeatedly introduced across the United States and parts of Canada. Where introduced, yellow floating heart can outcompete native vegetation and phytoplankton, and reduce oxygen in the water. In this project, CABI is helping to identify which area(s) in Eurasia Nymphoides peltata was introduced from to North America and is conducting surveys for potential European biological control agents.
Invasive plant pathogens represent a threat to US agriculture, forestry and the environment. Accurate information on these pathogens is required to help prevent their introduction and spread. The Plant Pathogens Subcommittee of the US Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens (ITAP) has identified the worst plant pathogen threats to the USA. CABI is commissioning the compilation of data on these plant pathogens to be published as full datasheets in the Invasive Species Compendium [www.cabi.org/isc] (an open access global resource currently containing over 10,000 datasheets).
The western corn rootworm is a major invasive maize pest in North America and Europe. The phase-out of certain pesticides means control options are increasingly limited. New technologies are being researched in collaboration with five French partners. Using field surveys and candidate gene searches through database-mining, we are investigating bacterial proteins with insecticidal effects. Promising strains are then screened in vitro to develop biopesticidial or biotechnological control options.
European hawkweeds are invasive in North American pastures, where mechanical methods of control are difficult and ineffective. Chemical control with broad-spectrum herbicides is not selective and relatively expensive, with the weed often recolonising untreated pastures. Insects that feed on hawkweeds in Europe have been studied as potential biological control agents for North America since 2000. Two agents have been released in Canada – the gall wasp Aulacidea subterminalis in 2011 and the hoverfly Cheilosia urbana in 2017.