An evaluation of two strains of Cyrtobagous salviniae Calder and Sands as natural enemies of the aquatic weeds salvinia molesta Mitchell and Salvinia minima Baker
Dye, Jeremiah M.
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The floating aquatic weeds common salvinia (Salvinia minima Baker) and giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta Mitchell) degrade aquatic systems through fast, mat forming growth. The Salvinia specialist weevil Cyrtobagous salviniae Calder and Sands has been used to reduce the severity of giant salvinia infestations and associated with reduced severity of common salvinia infestations. Genetically, morphologically and biologically distinct strains of C. salviniae exist, but their relative potential for success as biological control agents of Salvinia species has not been evaluated. This thesis (1) describes a recirculating water system designed for conducting such studies and (2) reports the results of C. salviniae strain comparisons. A recirculating water system with a high degree of replication and minimal variation in water flow, temperature and light intensity was used for laboratory experiments using sixty-day temperature profiles averaging 31.4, 26.5 and 8.0?C derived from surface water temperatures measured at lakes in expected range of Salvinia species in the North America. Larval and adult population numbers of two C. salviniae strains (Australia and Florida) were determined for each temperature profile along with feeding induced plant necrosis on both Salvinia species. Australia C. salviniae had lower survivorship rates to adulthood on common salvinia than did Florida C. salviniae at the 31.4 and 26.5?C temperature profiles. Neither strain reproduced, and no significant between-strain differences in plant necrosis were detected at the 8.0?C temperature profile. At 31.4?C there were no significant differences in adult counts, larval counts or plant damage between the two strains on giant salvinia. At 26.5?C, however, significantly fewer larvae were collected from initially released adults and significantly less plant necrosis was associated with weevil feeding by Florida strain compared to Australia strain weevils. These results may have arisen from comparing Australia weevils from a growing colony to Florida weevils from a declining colony. Overall, the results indicate that only Florida C. salviniae should be released against common salvinia. Florida C. salviniae may be equally suitable to Australia C. salviniae for releases against giant salvinia, but further study is needed to fully assess the potential for using Florida C. salviniae against giant salvinia.