Predicting the response of Cabomba caroliniana populations to biological control agent damage




Abstract Cabomba caroliniana is a submerged aquatic plant from South America that is becoming a serious weed worldwide. It spreads by seed and by fragmentation and has an extremely wide climatic range, invading lakes and ponds from tropical (Darwin, Australia: latitude 12°) to cold temperate regions (Peterborough, Canada: latitude 45°). There are currently no effective methods of managing cabomba infestations and funding has been allocated to research biological methods. Surveys have examined cabomba in its native range and have identified several potential biological control agents. The most promising are a stem boring weevil (Hydrotimetes natans) and an aquatic moth (Paracles spp.). Here we predict the change in cabomba populations after the introduction of the biological control agents. Our predictions are based on quantitative surveys of cabomba populations at three lakes in south-east Queensland, qualitative observations of cabomba in its native range, and conceptual knowledge of how the realised niche of cabomba might be affected by herbivore damage.