Bioeradication: Controlling non-native invasive species 5/7

This is an extension of a pair of presentations I gave at the NENHC 2013 in April of this year on the control of non-native invasive species. The first paper was on Bioeradication, with examples. The second was a presentation of Ailanthus altissima chemical control and bioeradication.

As in all things biological and especially ecological, it is not complete due to the complexity of biological systems and even greater complexity of ecological systems. The ideas and examples are still a work in progress. However, as is self-evident, what is presented here describes and explains the much safer use of Native Bioeradicants as an alternative to the dangerous practice of Classical Biocontrol.

Bioremediation – the use of native organisms to displace or replace non-native organisms as they are eliminated from an ecosystem. This is an expansion of the traditional definition of bioremediation into an ecological usage beyond the microbial level. Whereas, traditional bioremediation is the use of microorganisms to mitigate chemical or organic pollution, this is the use of the term to mean use of native organisms to restore an ecosystem during and after the removal of a non-native organism or non-native organism system.

The use of Indirect Bioeradication is one inherent way of doing this as it places native species which already have a place in the ecosystem back into the natural succession process. This fills the ecosystem’s temporal and spatial gaps left by the eradication of the non-native species. This in turn prevents reinvasion by non-native species.

In Bioeradication we are trying to understand all the relationships within an ecosystem to find native organisms to hinder and eradicate non-native organisms. We are looking more for systems composed of many organisms than single organisms or “magic bullets” as systems are more stable due to their complexity and composed of multiple strategies for destroying non-native invasives. Therefore, bioeradication systems are more able to adapt to changing environmental conditions, the changing gene structure and the changing strategies used by an invasive non-native.

Adaptation of Novel Weapons or their development is a major component of EICA in the ongoing and continual changes of adaptation to changing ecosystem conditions by non-native species. Bioeradicants are able to neutralize the Novel Weapons by being immune to their effects due to experience with natives using the same or similar “weapons”, adapting present defenses or by developing new defenses. The more native congeners or confamiliars of the invasive the native bioeradicant uses, the more apt it is to have the genetic and/or behavioral tools to pace with and out pace the changes in the non-native. Therefore, also the larger the number of congeners and confamiliars in an ecosystem, the greater the chance a bioeradicant/bioeradicant system will develop. This is due to potential bioeradicants being adapted to the defenses of native congeners or confamiliars and having been potentially exposed to similar “weapons” or the genes responsible for them. Thus the defenses, the ability to adapt already in place defenses or the ability to develop new defenses to Novel Weapons is already in place in bioeradicants. The result is either the non-native is outcompeted by the bioeradicant or the non-native is used as an energy source by the bioeradicant. Most probably it is a combination of both that will be most effective.

Richard Gardner lives in Upper Bern Township. His passions are ecology and history because with these we are able to understand our world, our place in it and our future.

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