Flowering Alligator weed, Alternanthera philoxeroides.

Alligator weed can invade both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

Steps in a weed biological control program

Biological control involves a huge investment of time and resources to be successful at managing and controlling target weed species.

  • 22 June 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Introduction

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Biological control programs are large scale projects that take many years from when an agent is first identified in the field in the country of origin of the weed to its approval for release in Australia.

There are several steps involved in implementing a biological control project for any species and each step in the process is linked with the previous one.

The following outlines the steps involved in a typical biological control program:

  1. choosing the target weed
  2. native-range surveying
  3. choosing the best potential agent
  4. host-specificity testing
  5. release approval (Biosecurity Australia and the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts)
    Weed biological control involves using natural enemies to help manage and control target species.
  6. mass rearing, release and evaluation
  7. non-target impacts.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is responsible for approval of the importation of biological control agents for the control of weeds.

  • Briese DT. 2003. The centrifugal phylogenetic method used to select plants for host-specificity testing of weed biological control agents: Can and should it be modernised?. In: Spafford Jacob H,  Briese DT. (eds). Improving the selection, testing and evaluation of weed biological control agents. Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, Technical Series 7. Pp. 23-33.
  • Willis AJ, Kilby MJ, McMaster K, Cullen JM, Grove RH. 2003. Predictability and acceptability: Potential for damage to non-target native plant species by biological control agents for weeds. In: Spafford Jacob H, Briese DT. (eds). Improving the selection, testing and evaluation of weed biological control agents. Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, Technical Series 7. Pp. 35-49.