Integrating conventional management methods with biological control for enhanced Tamarix management.
Invasive shrubs like Tamarix spp. are ecological and economic threats in the U.S. Southwest and West, as they displace native vegetation and require innovative management approaches. Tamarix control typically consists of chemical and mechanical removal, but these methods may have negative ecological and economic impacts. Tamarisk leaf beetles (Diorhabda spp.) released for biocontrol are becoming increasingly established within Western river systems and can provide additional control. Previous Diorhabda research studied integration of beetle herbivory with fire and with mechanical management methods and herbicide application (e.g., cut stump), but little research has been conducted on integration with mowing and foliar herbicide application, which cause minimal soil disturbance. At Caballo Reservoir in southern New Mexico, we addressed the question: "How does Tamarix respond to chemical and mechanical control when Diorhabda is well established at a site?" A field experiment was conducted by integrating mowing and foliar imazapyr herbicide at standard (3.6 g ae L- 1 [0.75% v/v] and low 1.2 g ae L- 1 [0.25% v/v]) rates with herbivory. Treatments were replicated five times at two sites-a dry site and a seasonally flooded site. Beetles and larvae were counted and green foliage was measured over 2 yr. Mowing and full herbicide rates reduced green foliage and limited regrowth compared with low herbicide rate and beetles alone. Integrating conventional management such as mowing and herbicide with biocontrol could improve Tamarix management by providing stresses in addition to herbivory alone.