Microcapsulated biocides for the targeted control of invasive bivalves.
Invasive alien species (IAS) are one of the greatest drivers of ecological change. Typically, control uses chemical agents that often are ineffective, harmful to non-target organisms, and environmentally persistent. Bivalves are frequently high impact IAS, but have proven particularly hard to control due to their valve-closing response when exposed to conventional control agents. Microencapsulation of biocides with edible coatings represents a highly targeted delivery route, bypassing avoidance responses and accumulating in bivalves through their prodigious filter feeding. Uneaten microcapsules degrade and become biologically inactive within hours thus reducing potential impacts on non-target biota. We manufactured two new formulations of microcapsules (BioBullets). Particles were designed to mimic natural food particles (algae) in terms of size (9.5±0.5 to 19.4±1.3 SE µm diameter), buoyancy (near neutral) and shape (spherical). Laboratory exposures demonstrated that two formulations effectively controlled the Gulf wedge clam Rangia cuneata, an IAS currently spreading rapidly through Europe. A single dose of 2-6 mg L-1 of the active ingredient in a static system achieved 90% mortality after 30 days of exposure. Microencapsulation offers an effective and targeted management tool for rapid responses following the early detection of both Gulf wedge clams and many other filter-feeding IAS, and may be especially effective in closed systems or where populations remain very localised.