Living the Promise: Center for Invasive Species Research

Uploaded by ucriverside on 02.11.2012

Invasive species are considered to be highly problematic for California. Is has
been estimated that invaders cost the state approximately three billion
dollars per annum. We have specialists who work in areas of integrative
pest management, biological control. We have scientists who work on the genetics
of these invasive species, and together we look at developing novel control and
management strategies for these invaders that threaten California.
Here at Lindcove we have a conference building,
and we reach out to consumers and the
grower industry in lots of different ways.
My role as an extension specialist is to work with the citrus industry and
determine what the problems are and then act in a leadership role to bring in
basic researchers from campus and other places, USDA
CDFA, and develop research programs to solve the problems. And the problem
solving research might be very basic,
studying the insect, its life cycle,
or it might be something very far reaching where we're
inserting genes into a plant in order to resist that particular custom the
disease that it might carry.
Recently we had a new exoctic pest enter California,
probably through Mexico, and it's called the Asian Citrus Psyllid,
but it happens to carry a devastating bacterial disease that we call huanglongbing
which is a death sentence for citrus trees. And that particular disease is
now found in Florida
and Mexico and it could easily move here as well, so we're massing all the researchers
together to come up with solutions nationwide, and I'm doing an extensive
education program again to help
the consumers understand why
they need to be protecting their trees against this particular past.
We're standing on picnic hill on the UCR campus, and this is a pretty good example
of an urban forest in southern California. If you look around,
you can see that virtually every tree that's on site is from
someplace else in the world.
We have trees here from Australia from South America from Africa and from Europe.
The majority of our work
is on the ecology and management of insects in the urban forest and in natural
And we've got a number of projects working in that area.
That's the goal we're striving for, is to try and contain the populations of pests at
a very low level with a minimum amount of input into the system
to have the environment manage itself rather than having us trying to manage it.
And it works pretty well. Once we have the right natural enemy in, it
provides an answer to the problem that is permanent.
Urban forests have lots of value. The trees in urban forests have a lot of value, so
when people look at what's the value of the kind of research that's
being done and the value of integrative pest management, with just one tree species,
we're looking at somewhere in the ballpark of half a billion dollars.
We grow, in our desert regions here, we grow a lot of fall planted broccoli,
so those are planted from the end of August into September and
This insect, it
hones in on the chemicals that are produced from the broccoli plant. It's called
the bagrada bug.
It takes basically one bite
from this insect to kill the plant.
That's causing us huge dollar losses in our local desert areas and we've just now
started to work on that particular insect.
With dates we've learned a lot about the biology of the particular insect that's
a problem there. It's called the carob moth. The moths, male and female moths, communicate via
a pheromone. If we can stop that mating interaction, we can stop the laying of
fertile eggs. And basically we have been able to synthesize the pheromone
they are mimics of the original pheromone.
We can put those out in the field, and if we can put that pheromone around in enough
locations within a date garden,
then we interfere with the male's ability
to find the females.
What we try to do in in economic entomology and field entomology, the kind
of work that I do,
is to
do our best to make those food products as safe as we can and
of course for the environment--to make the environment as safe as it can
be. We're trying to put together a holistic approach
so we can tell the former, "Okay, here's the best way that you can manage your crop,
still make it economically viable for you, but
deal with mitigating the insect problem that we have coming that's
bringing these problems to your field
Researchers affiliated with the Center for Invasive Species Research have had some
success stories against invasive species. Perhaps most notable has been the
control program for the glassy-winged sharpshooter,
a severe pest which vectors a bacteria which is lethal to grapes. Part of my
job, which I find very exciting, is going back to these countries,
tracking down the pest, and then hunting around looking for the natural enemies that
we could bring back to California