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Prescribed Fire Effects on Biological Control of Leafy Spurge


David P. Fellows and Wesley E. Newton*


The flea beetle, Aphthona nigriscutis Foudras, is a potentially useful agent for biological control of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) in grasslands devoted to wildlife conservation. However, effects of other grassland management practices on the persistence and dynamics of flea beetle populations are not well understood. We conducted small plot tests to evaluate 1) the effect of prerelease burning on establishment of A. nigriscutis colonies, and 2) the ability of established A. nigriscutis colonies to survive prescribed fire. More colonies established on plots that were burned prior to beetle release (83% establishment) than on unburned plots (37% establishment), possibly due to litter reduction and baring of the soil surface. However, most colonies established with the aid of fire did not survive past the first generation unless the habitat was otherwise suitable for the species, and we conclude that the primary benefit of prerelease burning is increased recruitment of A. nigriscutis during the first few generations. Established colonies were not harmed by burns in October and May. Both spring and fall burns resulted in an increase in leafy spurge stem density during the first growing season, but stem density declined to the preburn level by the second growing season.

Keywords: Euphorbia esula, northern Great Plains, Aphthona nigriscutis, flea beetles


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 1063):
Fellows, David P., and Wesley E. Newton.  1999.  Prescribed Fire Effects 
     on Biological Control of Leafy Spurge.  Journal of Range Management 
     52:489-493.

This resource should be cited as:

Fellows, David P., and Wesley E. Newton.  1999.  Prescribed Fire Effects 
     on Biological Control of Leafy Spurge.  Journal of Range Management 
     52:489-493. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 
     Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/insects/feffct/index.htm 
     (Version 06APR2000).

Table of Contents

Tables


* Authors are Wildlife Biologist and Statistician, respectively, U. S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th St SE, Jamestown, N.D. 58401

The authors thank N. Spencer, USDA-ARS, for providing beetles and assistance in study design. N. Spencer, R. Carlson, D. Larson, and G. Sargeant provided critical reviews of the draft manuscript.


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