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Title: A survey of the fauna associated with Pistia Stratiotes L. (Waterlettuce) in Florida
Authors: University of Florida. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
United States. Agricultural Research Service.
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Jacksonville District.
Aquatic Plant Control Research Program (U.S.)
Dray, F. Allen.
Thompson, Catherine R.
Habeck, Dale H.
Balciunas, Joseph K.
Center, Ted D.
Keywords: Aquatic plants
Biological control
Publisher: Environmental Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Description: Technical Report
Abstract: Increasing waterlettuce populations in Florida appear to be associated with concurrently declining waterhyacinth populations. Waterhyacinth is competitively superior to waterlettuce and probably supplanted the vast waterlettuce mats observed by explorers in Florida during the mid-1700s. For these reasons, it is believed that waterlettuce may reach severe nuisance population levels as waterhyacinth abundance continues to decline. To prevent this, a project was initiated to introduce into the United States biological agents that have successfully controlled waterlettuce in Australia and portions of Asia. The first phase of this project involved conducting a survey of the fauna, particularly plant-feeding insects, associated with waterlettuce in Florida. The objectives of the survey were to ensure proposed biocontrol agents were not in Florida, identify native herbivores that stress the plants, and develop a preliminary understanding of dynamics of the faunal community associated with waterlettuce. A minimum of 20 plants were collected at each of 61 water bodies (July 1985-June 1986). The fauna on these plants included 98 insect taxa and 11 other invertebrate taxa. Thirteen herbivorous species were collected from these plants, but only six (the moths Samea multiplicalis, Petrophila drumalis, and Synclita obliteralis, the leafhopper Draeculacephala inscripta, the aphid Rhopalosiphum nymphaeae, and an unidentified mealybug) feed on the living plant tissues. This is a depauperate herbivorous fauna compared to South America or Asia. In South America, for example, nine species of weevils (several of which are host specific) feed on waterlettuce. None of the Floridian herbivores are known to be host specific, which strengthens arguments that waterlettuce is not native to the United States. Finally, neither of the proposed biocontrol agents (Neohydronomus pulchellus and Athetis pectinicornis) was present in Florida.
Appears in Collections:Technical Report

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