Repelling the knapweed invasion

February 19, 2012

The problem of invasive species may seem remote from most people's lives. But in some parts of the United Kingdom, an invasive plant creates a problem that hits home, literally. That's because the presence of invasive knotweed on a property prevents potential buyers from obtaining a mortgage. This destructive plant from Asia, which can tear down walls and rip up roads, is also putting down roots in many parts of Canada.

Research by Judith Myers, an ecology professor emerita at the University of British Columbia, shows that the tide can be turned. At this week's meeting of the (AAAS) in , Myers will talk about how her research has helped reduce the threat of a similar plant—knapweed. The rangeland plant had spread through the interior of British Columbia, ruining pastureland for cattle and impacting local economies. Following extensive testing of European insects to find those that would feast on the knapweed but leave everything else alone, a beetle was introduced to North America that has caused a significant and rapid decline in knapweed.

For every one dollar spent on the control program, there was $17 in economic benefit in British Columbia. Considering that a 2008 estimate put the annual cost of invasive weeds at $65 million in British Columbia alone, the success of the program is a win for the economy and for the ecology.

Myers will present her findings at the AAAS session Transcending Interdisciplinary Research Barriers: Best Practices for Mobilizing Knowledge.

Explore further: Woody and aquatic plants pose greatest invasive threat to China

Related Stories

Mountain pine beetle marching east from Alberta

April 4, 2011

A University of Alberta-led research team has determined that the mountain pine beetle has invaded jack pine forests in Alberta, opening up the possibility for an infestation that could stretch across the Prairies and keep ...

Poor plant defenses promote invasive beetle's success

April 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Invasive species cost more than $100 billion a year in damages in the United States, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. While most researchers attribute their success to a lack of natural ...

Recommended for you

Research advances on transplant ward pathogen

August 28, 2015

The fungus Cryptococcus causes meningitis, a brain disease that kills about 1 million people each year—mainly those with impaired immune systems due to AIDS, cancer treatment or an organ transplant. It's difficult to treat ...

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.