The decline of water hyacinth on Lake Victoria was due to biological control by Neochetina spp.
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There has been some debate recently about the cause of the decline of water hyacinth on Lake Victoria. While much of this evidence points to classical biological control as the major factor, the El Niño associated weather pattern of the last quarter of 1997 and the first half of 1998 has confused the issue.We argue first that the reductions in water hyacinth on Lake Victoria were ultimately caused by the widespread and significant damage to plants by Neochetina spp., although this process was increased by the stormy weather associated with the El Niño event; second that increased waves and current on Lake Victoria caused by El Niño redistributed water hyacinth plants around the lake; and third that a major lakewide resurgence of water hyacinth plants on Lake Victoria has not occurred and will not occur unless the weevil populations are disrupted. We conclude that the population crash of water hyacinth on Lake Victoria would not have occurred in the absence of the weevils, but that it may have been hastened by stormy weather associated with the El Niño event.
- RESEARCH: Wilson, JRU