Invasive Tamarix (Tamaricaceae) in South Africa: current research and the potential for biological control
Format Extent2380573 bytes
MetadataShow full item record
Most species of Tamarix originate in Eurasia and at least five species have become invasive around the world, including South Africa. However, T. usneoides is indigenous to southern Africa, where the potential for biological control of the invasive species is being investigated. Recent research on the invasive species is reviewed here with particular reference to these South African biocontrol efforts. The successful biological control programme against invasive Tamarix in the USA, using several species of ‘‘Tamarisk beetle’’, is being used as a guide for the South African research. The South African programme is complicated by firstly, the presence of the indigenous T. usneoides which raises the precision of host-specificity required, and secondly, the introduced and indigenous Tamarix have a high intrinsic value for phytoremediation of mine tailings dams in South Africa. The phylogenetic proximity of these Tamarix species to each other has contributed to this challenge, which has nevertheless been successfully addressed by molecular techniques used to separate the species. In addition, classical morphological techniques have been used to separate the Tamarisk beetles, so that now they can generally be matched to Tamarix tree species. Overall, it is concluded that given the broad knowledge now available on the ecology and identity of both the trees and their biocontrol agents, the prospects for successful biological control of Tamarix in South Africa are good.
- RESEARCH: Byrne, M