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Spread, Impact, and Control of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in North American Wetlands

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a useful approach in that it attempts to view pest problems from a holistic and cohesive perspective. IPM has been described by Bottrell and Smith (1982) as "a systems approach to reduce pest damage to tolerable levels through a variety of techniques, including natural predators, pathogens, parasites, genetically resistant hosts, environmental modifications, and, when necessary and appropriate, chemical pesticides. Generally, IPM programs first use nonchemical defenses against pests before altering the environment with chemical pesticides." This concept has been developed by agricultural scientists with the view of controlling pest species with combinations of methods that would be most cost effective and least damaging to the agro-ecosystem. Schreiber (1982) used computer modeling to describe the structure and function of the pest species environment. Batra (1982a) underscored the holistic approach of IPM in her listing of the sequence of methods used from the least to the most disturbing to the ecosystem. The first methods listed are variations of biological control; the remaining methods apply increasingly stiff and costly impacts on the agro-ecosystem—ending with chemical control and various cultural controls, such as, tillage, mowing, and plowing. The application of successive levels of IPM requires estimates of the degree of "economic damage" caused by the pest. Recognizing that the estimation of "economic damage" poses some problems in wildlife areas, nature preserves, or parklands, we suggest that the basic goals of IPM are even better suited to natural habitats than to agro-ecosystems. Thus far, the application of IPM to wildlife habitat has included range weeds on Great Plains wildlife refuges (Linehan 1982) where Service biologists and refuge managers cooperated with biological control efforts against musk-thistle and goatweed (Hypericum perforatum) using a snout-weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus) and other beetles (Chrysolina spp.), respectively. The last phases of a biological control program for purple loosestrife could be readily worked into an IPM system in concert with State, Provincial, and national wetland resource agencies.

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