New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2006) 30(1): 147- 147

Native insects as targets and non-target species of biological control

Conference Abstract
Mandy Barron  
  1. Biocontrol & Biosecurity, AgResearch, P.O. Box 60, Lincoln, New Zealand

The use of population models for predicting desirable and undesirable outcomes of biological control are described using three case studies from New Zealand. The first reviews the models of Barlow and colleagues used to understand and improve the control of native grass grub Costelytra zealandica populations by augmentative application of pathogenic Serratia entomophila bacteria. A variety of modelling approaches have been used to predict grass grub outbreaks and thus the cost-effectiveness of applying bacteria. Models have also been developed to understand the competitive interactions between pathogenic and non-pathogenic forms of the bacteria. The other two case studies show how retrospective modelling has been used to quantify the non-target impact of introduced biological control agents. The parasitoid Microctonus aethiopoides was introduced to control the lucerne pest Sitona discoideus, but was found to disperse outside of the target habitat and attack several native weevil species in the Entiminae family. Retrospective modelling suggests that, given average parasitism levels of 15%, native Irenimus spp. and Nicaeana spp. weevil populations are likely to have been reduced by 8% due to non-target parasitism. Similarly, population models have shown that native red admiral butterfly (Bassaris gonerilla) populations are likely to have been reduced by 5% due to non- target parasitism by Pteromalus puparum, which was introduced to New Zealand for the control of the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae).