Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Biological control of invasive climbing plants in South Africa.

Abstract

Vines and other climbing plants typically invest their resources into growth at the expense of accumulating self-supporting biomass. Adaptive traits that have arisen because of the life history needs of climbing species, such as rapid and extensive growth, as well as resilience to physical damage, make these plants highly competitive. Introduced climbing species therefore have the potential to be particularly damaging in novel ranges where they escape pressure from natural enemies. In South Africa, invasive climbing species negatively influence biodiversity and plant-community structure, and as conventional management is often difficult, biological control (biocontrol) is viewed as the only viable long-term control method. This paper consolidates the work done on biocontrol programmes against climbing species in South Africa, including Anredera cordifolia (Ten.) Steenis (Basellaceae), Cardiospermum grandiflorum Sw. (Sapindaceae), Dolichandra unguis-cati (L.) L.G. Lohmann (Bignoniaceae) and Pereskia aculeata Miller (Cactaceae). To date, these programmes have investigated some 27 potential biocontrol agents, of which nine have been approved for release in the country. Since 2010, three new agents have been introduced, and considerable progress made with post-release evaluations of all the introduced agents. Some positive results have been achieved, most notably the successful reduction in seed set of C. grandiflorum due to Cissanthonomus tuberculipennis Hustache (Curculionidae), but considerable variation in efficacy over time and between infestations has been recorded for many of the other agents. Further work may help explain the factors limiting success, leading to improved control, but in some cases, such as for A. cordifolia, new biocontrol agents should be considered.