Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Public seminar at CSIRO

Picking winners in biological control: holy grail or poisoned chalice

Public seminar
Dr Raghu Sathyamurthy – Arid Zone Research Institute, Dep. Resources Northern Territory
Venue: CSIRO Entomology
Managing the risks and costs of classical biological control while harnessing its benefits is an ongoing challenge for its utility in invasive species management. Significant economic and ecological gains can potentially be made in this regard, if we can predict the agents that have the highest likelihood of managing their target weed/insect pest (i.e. pick "winners"), and prioritise their importation, risk assessment and release. Developing innovative approaches to picking winners has therefore been the 'holy grail' of the discipline, a pursuit hastened in recent decades by the detection of non-target effects of ineffective biocontrol agents. In this talk I will outline one potentially valuable approach to such a pursuit. Using a case study of my research in weed biological control, I illustrate how a conceptual framework to tackle the mechanistic basis for invasiveness can help in selecting and prioritising agents with a higher likelihood of success. I conclude with some caveats on using such approaches, to avoid accidentally sipping from poisoned chalices in the pursuit of this holy grail

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