WG 1 – Population dynamics and biological control

One long-term management tool not yet implemented in Europe is biological control (BC), i.e. the use of natural enemies either by introducing host-specific arthropods or fungal pathogens from the area of origin of the plant (classical BC), or by periodic releases of an abundance of antagonists (inundative or bioherbicide method).

Modern classical BC projects that are based on in-depth investigations on the host-range and impact of potential BC agents prior to their release have a high safety track record and belong to the standard measures to combat invasive species in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada or China, i.e. in regions most heavily affected by biological invasions. In Europe, classical BC of weeds is still in its infancy.


BC agents living from Ambrosia

WG1 will initiate a Europe-wide BC programme against Ambrosia.

Capitalizing on the extensive information available on natural antagonists associated with Ambrosia species in its native range in America and on repeated world-wide attempts to control Ambrosia using BC, the Action will promote and coordinate classical and inundative BC activities among European labs and experts from Non-COST countries.

With regard to new BC candidates, comprehensive pre-release studies will be conducted. For BC candidates that have already been considered and/or released as classical BC agents elsewhere, existing bio-safety and impact studies need to be extended by taking into consideration the European climatic characteristics and landscape conditions, and how these affect population dynamics of the plant and antagonist populations.

This work will be carried out co-financed by current and newly submitted national research projects and collaborative international projects. The key outputs of these research activities will be petitions for field release of safe and efficient BC agents, based on Pest Risk Assessment.


  1. define the habitat-specific management goals
  2. concentrate the studies on the most promising species
  3. establish joint procedures to allow their importation in the European labs
  4. define taxonomic, genetic, biological and physiological properties of the agents
  5. initiate nationally funded studies and collaborative international projects
  6. identify the best procedures to obtain an effective application
  7. establish joint protocols for assessing impact prior to the release of the BC agents, using population dynamics studies
  8. establish techniques for cheap and fast mass production and application of inundative BC candidates
  9. design post-release monitoring studies to assess impact and non-target effects of the BC agents


Urs SchaffnerUrs Schaffner (CH), co-ordinator
CABI Europe, Switzerland

Personal webpage at cabi.org
Maurizio VurroMaurizio Vurro (IT), substitute
Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), Italy

Personal website