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An International Effort on Biological Control of Lippia in Australia

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Abstract:

Introduced into Australia as a low maintenance turf, lippia (Phyla canescens) is now a serious weed in places that are periodically flooded such as in wetlands, floodplains and the riparian zone, particularly in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB). It is currently a serious problem over 800,000 ha of floodplain grazing country and costs livestock industries in the MDB around $38 million a year. However, its distribution is much wider than that and it is found across five million hectares of the Basin. Floods and disturbance spread lippie down waterways and allow it to colonise new areas. The weed is a native of South America. Lippia causes multiple problems. It is unpalatable to stock which can lead to greatly reduced stocking rates and it forms a dense, smothering mat over large areas which prevents the growth of other plants, both pasture and native, and can lead to the collapse of creek banks. Dealing with lippia can be difficult. Mechanical and chemical means provide short term control, but biological control offers the most promise in the long term. The ultimate aim of such a project would be to reduce the weed to a level where it no longer posed a threat to livestock industries or the environment. Lippia and its close relatives are native to the Americas, its distribution stretching from California to Argentina and Chile. The search is now on in these areas for potential biocontrol agents. To facilitate this, agreements are in place between CSIRO and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Bahia Blanca in Argentina.

Keywords: AGENTS; BIOCONTROL; BIOCONTROL AGENTS; BIOLOGICAL CONTROL; BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS; ENVIRONMENT; LIPPIA; MURRAY DARLING BASIN; NATURAL ENEMIES; PHYLA CANESCENS; RIPARIAN WEED; SOUTH AMERICA; WEED

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/19oct13

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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