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Biological control of marine invasive species: cautionary tales and land-based lessons
Secord, D. (2003). Biological control of marine invasive species: cautionary tales and land-based lessons. Biological Invasions 5(1-2): 117-131
In: Biological Invasions. Springer: London. ISSN 1387-3547, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Secord, D. (2003). Biological control of marine invasive species: cautionary tales and land-based lessons, in: Pederson, J. Marine bioinvasions: patterns, processes and perspectives. : pp. 117-131, more

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    Algae; Biological control; Conservation; Hosts; Introduced species; Marine invertebrates; Natural enemies; Pest control; Predator prey interactions; Rare species; Risks; Sea grass; Marine

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  • Secord, D.

    Biological control (biocontrol) has successfully regulated pest populations in terrestrial agroecosystems, but it has also caused negative unintended consequences for native species. Marine biologists and resource managers have recently published a growing number of proposals to include biocontrol in integrated pest management programs in oceans, seas and estuaries. Here, I review six ecologically and taxonomically diverse case studies of marine biocontrol programs at various stages of planning and implementation. Proposals include viral or microbial control of harmful algal blooms, predatory control of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Black Sea, parasitic regulation of the European green crab Carcinus maenas, castration by ciliates of the seastar Asterias amurensis in Australia, herbivory of the toxic green alga Caulerpa taxifolia in the Mediterranean by sacoglossan sea slugs, and insect biocontrol by the planthopper Prokelesia marginata to ameliorate ecological impacts of the saltmarsh cordgrass Spartina alterniflora. Where data exist, I evaluate these examples in terms of lessons marine invasion biologists can glean from the rich history of terrestrial biocontrol, and explicitly contrast agroecosystems with invaded marine habitats. Host specificity cannot be guaranteed in the marine biocontrol proposals examined. Feasible alternatives to classical biocontrol in the marine realm should be emphasized, including more investment in invasion prevention tools, early detection and eradication while invasions are small, and increased attention to native natural enemies to control exotic pests. Biocontrol in marine habitats is risky: it poses many more uncertainties and has a much sparser history than its counterpart on land.

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