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Using Native Grasses for the Biological Control of Invasive Species

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Title: Using Native Grasses for the Biological Control of Invasive Species


1
Using Native Grasses for the Biological Control
of Invasive Species
  • By
  • Oghenekome U. Onokpise, Ph. D.
  • Professor
  • Forestry and Natural Resources Conservation
    Program
  • College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and
    Agriculture (CESTA).
  • Florida AM University
  • Tallahassee, FL 32307
  • Native Grass Conference for Small Framers
    Universities
  • Americus, Georgia
  • September 7-8, 2005

2
Invasive Species
  • What are they?
  • Alien plants spreading naturally (without the
    direct assistance of people) in natural or
    seminatural habitats to produce a significant
    change in terms of composition, structure or
    ecosystem processes. (Modified from Langeland
    and Burks, 1998).

3
Invasive Species Contd
  • Also called
  • Non-native species, Exotic species,
  • Non-indigenous species, Noxious weeds
  • Occur as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns and
    forbs. More than 50 species identified in
    Southeastern U.S.A.
  • Examples-Kudzu, Tropical Soda Apple, Chinese
    Lespedeza, Cogongrass, etc.
  • For this presentation we are focusing on
    cogongrass.

4
Botanical Description
  • Common Name Cogongrass
  • Botanical Name Imperata cylindrica (L)
  • Imperata
    brasiliensis (L)
  • Origin Cogongrass is native to Southeast
    Asia.

5
Botanical Description Contd
  • Perennial Grass
  • Leaf sheaths relatively short and glabrous
  • Creeping scaly rhizome with sharp pointed tips
  • Leaf blades erect, narrow and pubescent
  • Main leaf characteristic is whitish midvein
    noticeably off center

6
  • Stand of Cogongrass

7
Botanical Description Contd
  • Inflorescence is a narrow, dense terminal
    panicle, white silky and plume-like.
  • Spikelets are crowded with long white hairs.

8
  • Another stand of Cogongrass

9
  • Leaf of Cogongrass

10
  • Inflorescence

11
  • Rhizome

12
  • Complete Cogongrass Structure

13
Life History
  • Fast growing and thrives on disturbed lands
  • Produces new rhizomes readily, even with rhizome
    fragments
  • Disperses over long distances by windborne seeds
  • Flowers in Spring or Fall in North Florida,
    throughout the year in Central and South Florida

14
Distribution and Habitat
  • Commonly found in the humid tropics
  • Currently reported in Florida, Alabama, Georgia,
    Louisiana, and Mississippi
  • Grow best in relatively acidic soils that are low
    in fertility and highly leached

15
Ecological Significance
  • Considered one of the worlds ten noxious and
    worst weeds
  • Reported in at least 75 countries
  • Introduced into the U.S. as follows
  • 1911 - Mobile, Alabama as packing material in a
    shipment of plants from Japan
  • 1920 Mississippi as a forage crop

16
Ecological Significance Contd
  • 1920 1940s Florida and Mississippi
    as forage crop and soil
  • stabilization by
    USDA
  • NRCS ( old SCS)
  • 1940s to date Becomes an invasive
    species in Florida, Georgia,
  • Alabama, Louisiana,
    Mississippi, and some recent
    reports include S. Carolina
  • Found on roadways, mined sites, disturbed sites,
    etc

17
  • Leon County

18
  • Railroad Track

19
  • Roadway

20
Management and Research
  • Earlier, Mostly Chemical
  • Cultural Practices
  • New Management Approaches

21
  • Chemical Control
  • Roundup gt glyphosate
  • Arsenal gt Imazapyr
  • Cultural Practices
  • Burning
  • Plowing
  • Slashing
  • Pulling
  • Hoeing

22
New Management Practices
  • Biological Control Defined
  • Action of one organism in maintaining another
    organisms population at lower than average
    density than would naturally occur.
  • Goal of Biocontrol to reduce populations of
    pest organism to a non-economic level but not
    eradicate it.

23
  • Use of Native Species for Biological Control of
    Cogongrass
  • USDA OICD RSED requirement for domestic
    content
  • Suggested Native Plant Species
  • Patridge pea Chamaecrista fasiculata
  • White Ash Fraxinus americanus
  • Elliots milk pea Galactia elliottii
  • Skyline lupine Lupinus diffusus
  • Hairyawn Muhley Grass Muhlenbergia capillaris
  • Narrowleaf silkgrass Pityopsis graminifolia

24
Advantages and Disadvantages of Biocontrol
  • Advantages
  • 1. Self-perpetuation without human intervention
  • 2. No environmental residues
  • 3. No environmental pollution
  • 4. No environmental or mammalian toxicity
  • 5. Environmentally sustainable
  • 6. Efficient and inexpensive

25
  • Disadvantages
  • 1. Plants valued in one area can become a
    weed in another geographic area
  • 2. Difficult to control once introduced
  • 3. Biocontrol is slow, less effective compared
    to chemical in the short term
  • 4. Less certain compared to herbicide and
    mechanical control

26
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27
  • Discovery of Muhlenbergia capillaris as a
    potential native grass species for controlling
    cogongrass at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

28
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29
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30
Ongoing Research with Hairyawn Muhly Grass
  • Cogongrass grown with
  • Hairyawn Muhly grass
  • Cogongrass only (original)
  • Muhly grass only (original)
  • Cogongrass muhly (original)
  • Transplants (cogongrass muhly)

31
Ongoing Research with Hairyawn Muhly Grass
  • In vivo

32
  • In vitro

33
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34
Surviving Plants After Transplant
35
  • Things to look at root interactions, moisture
    content, root/shoot biomass.

36
Table 1 Root, Shoot and Total Biomass of
Cogongrass and Muhly Grass Grown Individually and
in Combination at 17 WAP.
  • _____________________________________________
  • Treatment Root Biomass Shoot Total
    Biomass biomass (gm/m2)
  • gm/m2
  • __________________________________________________
    __________________
  • Cogongrass 19.87a1 9.57a 29.44a
  • Muhly grass (M) 3.39b 4.61b
    8.00b
  • C in M combination 11.89c 7.31c 19.20c
  • M in C combination 10.78c 6.47c 17.25c
  • __________________________________________________
    __________
  • 1 Means within columns followed by the same
    letter are not significantly different at Plt0.05
    LSD
  • WAP Weeks after planting in one gallon pots
    containing a soil mix of mushroom peat top soil
    (111)
  • Data converted to gm/m2 from pot weights
  • Source Dueberry, 2005

37
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38
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39
Conclusion
  • Further studies are needed and are currently
    underway at universities and USDA-APHIS.
  • Cogongrass is a problem on roadways, disturbed
    lands, wildlife refuges, national forests and
    other natural habitats.
  • Current control measures are mostly by chemical,
    mechanical and cultural practices

40
Conclusion contd
  • Preliminary results of ongoing research indicate
    that native grass species could be effective in
    controlling cogongrass.
  • An integrated system of biological, chemical,
    mechanical and cultural practices may be the best
    approach.
  • Native grass species as biocontrols are important
    and beneficial both environmentally and
    economically.

41
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
  • USDA-FAS-OICD-RES
  • USAID
  • Dr. Grace Bolfrex-Arku
  • Ms. Nadine Gordon-Bradley
  • Mr. Hamilton Dueberry
  • Mr. Donald Surrency USDA-NRCS, Jimmy Carter PMC
    for the invitation.

42
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