An assessment of biological control of Rubus alceifolius invasion on Réunion Island (Mascarene archipelago).
Biological control can be an effective conservation strategy to manage invasive species when other conventional methods cannot be implemented. Estimating the benefits of biological control for the conservation of native biodiversity remains a challenging task. Following the introduction of a defoliating sawfly, Cibdela janthina, for biological control of invasive giant bramble, Rubus alceifolius, on Réunion Island (Mascarene Archipelago), we monitored the consequent change in R. alceifolius cover as well as species richness and cover of non-native species and native species within a set of patches along an altitudinal gradient in the National Park of Réunion Island. There was an increase in native species richness and cover together with a decrease in R. alceifolius cover, showing that biological control positively impacted the native plant communities. The effectiveness of C. janthina was influenced by the altitudinal range, the surface area of the patches and the location of each patch, i.e forest edge or forest matrix. We discuss the extent to which the use of biological control within an integrated approach can optimize benefits for biodiversity conservation in the short to medium term by selecting complementary and standardised protocols.