Bioeradication white paper, defintitions and theory


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A discussion of Bioeradication as opposed to Biocontrol presenting theory and definitions of new terminology. The theory and

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Bioeradication white paper, defintitions and theory

  1. 1. BioeradicationThis is an extension of a pair of presentations I gave at the NENHC 2013 in April of this year on thecontrol of non-native invasive species. The first paper was on Bioeradication, with examples. The second wasa presentation of Ailanthus altissimachemical control and bioeradication.As in all things biological and especially ecological, it is not complete due to the complexity of biologicalsystems and even greater complexity of ecological systems. The ideas and examples are still a work inprogress. However, as is self-evident, what is presented here describes and explains the much safer use ofNative Bioeradicants as an alternative to the dangerous practice of Classical Biocontrol.Classical biocontrol – the introduction of non-native organisms in the attempt to reduce the effects of otherintroduced non-native organisms on ecosystems. This is a losing proposition as the goal is not to remove theproblems, just reduce their effects. At the same time there are unforeseen negative effects which cannot bepredicted in the local and extra-local ecosystems in which they are introduced through genetic or behavioralchanges in native organisms in the ecosystem and in the non-native biocontrol such as the non-nativebiocontrol changing food sources to native organisms, acting as a food subsidy for native organisms whichunbalances the native food web with multiple possible consequences, competition for nesting sites, breedingresources or any other resource with which it is in competition with native organisms, introduction of disease(s)to native organisms which may cause their extinction, … . Introducing the non-native invasive induced geneticand behavioral changes in native organisms. Therefore introducing another non-native to try to correct theprior problem will also induce genetic and behavioral changes in the native organisms.Bioeradication – The extinction of a non-native (invasive)species from an ecosystem using native organisms.This is a winning proposition as the goal is the regeneration of the ecosystem by eliminating the non-nativeproblem from the ecosystem using native organisms which minimizes the potential problems associated withthe addition of non-native organisms as potential controls.Enemy Release Hypothesis (ERH) – Immediately when removed from its home ecosystem an organismtakes only a small fraction of its biocontrols (and competitors) with it. During transport and when introducedinto a new ecosystem other biocontrols (and competitors) drop out, further reducing the number of controlorganisms. It is the disease/pest/competitor version of the Founder Effect in which a small segment of apopulation immigrates to a new location, taking only a small subset of the original population’s genes with it.As in the Founder Effect, individuals (control organisms and competitors) may continue to drop out due torandom chance or environmental unsuitability, while others adapt to the new conditions with unpredictableconsequences. The final effect is the elimination of many of the restraints which prevented the non-nativeorganism from taking over its home ecosystem.This frees the non-native from many of its health and competition issues and allows it to focus on growth andreproduction in the new ecosystem. This is one of the major reasons that an invader can out-compete natives.Natives are kept in balance with the rest of the ecosystem due to direct and indirect native competitors andnative organisms that use the native as an energy source.Evolution of Increased Competitive Ability (EICA) – This starts on at the beginning of the introduction to anew ecosystem. It is most strongly seen on the front end or beginning of the Gaussian curve of an invasion. Itis the genetic shakeout where genes and genotypes that are unfit for the new ecosystem go extinct. At thesame time, genes and genotypes that increase the fitness/invasiveness of an invader increase or develop andproliferate. This is parallel to the Founder Effect in populations. The beginning is at removal from the originalecosystem and transport to the new ecosystem as even this requires special adaptations. However, it moststrongly develops from the moment of introduction to the new ecosystem and through the early stages oflogarithmic expansion. The process continues throughout its residency in the new ecosystem until it becomesextinct by a native (system) which evolves to drive it extinct through competition, herbivory, disease or any ofnumerous other processes alone or more likely as part of or in cooperation with other processes.
  2. 2. Bioeradicant – Any native organism in any time frame from seconds to centuries that partially or fully inhibits anon-native organism and helps to drive it to extinction. Unfortunately this is not the goal of using non-nativebiocontrols on non-native invasives. They are looking for control, not extinction of both of the introducedspecies (control and invasive) and groups of species.Bioeradicant system – A group of native organisms which through any biological relationship and time framepartially or fully inhibits a non-native organism to the point it is driven to extinction.Direct bioeradication – This is the use of a native organism or native organism system as a bioeradicant for aspecific organism. In the case of Ailanthus altissima it may be introducing a native wilt pathogen such asFusarium oxysporum or Verticillium dahliae to work with Aculops ailanthii and Atteva aurea.Indirect bioeradication – Providing the native resources such as food, breeding sites or shelter needed for anative bioeradicant or bioeradicant system to develop at a specific location for a specific organism. This maybe nectar sources, sheltering plants, mutualistic fungi, water source or … .Bioeradication garden – A form of Indirect Bioeradication which is a garden of local native plants thatprovide a resource at any life stage that a native bioeradicant needs to be effective as a bioeradicant such asfood, egg laying sites, overwintering sites, protection from predators, …, .Bioremediationcan be a direct resultof using a bioeradication garden by providing native organisms to replace the extinct non-native organisms.Bioeradication resource – Any naturally occurring environmental resource a native bioeradicant needs to beeffective as a bioeradicant.Resource use – This is the use by a native bioeradicant of a native or non-native resource. In the case of anon-native resource it takes time to adapt to using it through either learning to use it (behavioral changes) orgenetic changes, often both.Resource familiarity – This is the amount of use of a resource by a native bioeradicant. In the case of non-native (invasive) resources it requires time for a native bioeradicant to adapt to it through either behavioral orgenetic changes and begin driving the non-native to extinction.Resource heritage – This is the passing on of a behavioraland/or genetic adaptation to a resource by a nativebioeradicant. This can be through learning, by genetic change or more probably a combination of both. It canspread through a species horizontally as one organism learns from another or vertically as it is passed onto/through offspring through learning or genes.Mutualism – Two or more organisms which cooperate to the benefit of each other. Bioeradicant systemsreflect this at different levels of relationship by eliminating a non-native from the ecosystem through(unintended) cooperation, different feeding strategies which enhance the success of both species, behavioraladaptations or other strategies.Competition – Relationships where certain organisms benefit through a variety of mechanisms to thedetriment of others without necessarily using them as an energy source. This is an essential element inbioeradication.Herbivory, predation and parasitism – Relationships in which one organism or groups of organisms benefitby using other organisms as an energy source. This does not imply that all the benefit accrues to theherbivore, predator or parasite as there are often unseen benefits to both organisms.Direct competition – When an organism competes directly with another organism for a resource. Examplesare two species of bees competing for a pollen source or a vulture and a crow competing for an animalcarcass. This is good if a native bioeradicant is successfully competing with a non-native organism and drivingit to extinction. It is bad when a non-native is driving a native to extinction.
  3. 3. Indirect competition – Positive iswhen an organism provides a resource needed for another organism tocompete with a native or non-nativeorganism. Knowing how to manipulate this is better than introducing anon-native organism into an ecosystem to control another non-native organism. An example is providingplants as egg laying sites for a native butterfly that competes with a non-native species such as the cabbagemoth.Indirect Bioeradicationcan bea result of this.Negative is using a native organism to destroy a biological resource that a non-native organism needswhich is in competition with a native organism. This may be planting native wildflowers in a meadow to removea grass needed by a non-native moth such as food, egg laying sites or shelter.Resource enhancement/depletion – This is enhancing a resource needed by a native bioeradicant to help iteradicate a non-native species. By changing the conditions in an ecosystem, the competitors’ dominance andstatus in the ecosystem changes. This may be a change in the humidity which changes the fungi associatedwith a competitor, either increasing or reducing its ability to compete and function in an ecosystem. Orchanging the conditions needed by a native competitor on that competitor. It is similar to a domino effectexcept that it is about changes on one component of an ecosystem causing changes on another organismwhich affects that organism’s ability to survive and/or compete in that ecosystem. This is a strategy whichshould be used carefully and with much forethought due to the very strong possibility that by changing theabiotic environment, more damage than good can be done. The same is true with the biological componentsof an ecosystem. One change can cascade uncontrollably in an unforeseen direction which causes more harmthan the original problem did.This may be as simple as removing a dam to allow fish to migrate along a river corridor, addingstepping stones in a creek to facilitate drinking by native animals or changing a meadow back to a floodedmeadow to remove burrow sites.Bioremediation – the use of native organisms to displace or replace non-native organisms as they areeliminated from an ecosystem.This is an expansion of the traditional definition of bioremediation into anecological usage beyond the microbial level. Whereas, traditional bioremediation is the use of microorganismsto mitigate chemical or organic pollution, this is the use of the term to mean use of native organisms to restorean ecosystem during and after the removal of a non-native organism or non-native organism system.The use of Indirect Bioeradication is one inherent way of doing this as it places native species whichalready have a place in the ecosystem back into the natural succession process. This fills the ecosystem’stemporal and spatial gaps left by the eradication of the non-native species. This in turn prevents reinvasion bynon-native species.In Bioeradication we are trying to understand all the relationships within an ecosystem to find nativeorganisms to hinder and eradicate non-native organisms. We are looking more for systems composed ofmany organisms than single organisms or “magic bullets” as systems are more stable due to their complexityand composed of multiple strategies for destroying non-native invasives. Therefore, bioeradication systemsare more able to adapt to changing environmental conditions, the changing gene structure and the changingstrategies used by an invasive non-native.Adaptation of Novel Weapons or their development is a major component of EICA in the ongoing andcontinual changes of adaptation to changing ecosystem conditions by non-native species. Bioeradicants areable to neutralize the Novel Weapons by being immune to their effects due to experience with natives usingthe same or similar “weapons”, adapting present defenses or by developing new defenses. The more nativecongeners or confamiliars of the invasive the native bioeradicant uses, the more apt it is to have the geneticand/or behavioral tools to pace with and out pace the changes in the non-native. Therefore, also the largerthe number of congeners and confamiliars in an ecosystem, the greater the chance a bioeradicant/bioeradicantsystem will develop. This is due to potential bioeradicants being adapted to the defenses of native congenersor confamiliars and having been potentially exposed to similar “weapons” or the genes responsible for them.Thus the defenses, the ability to adapt already in place defenses or the ability to develop new defenses toNovel Weapons is already in place in bioeradicants. The result is either the non-native is outcompeted by the
  4. 4. bioeradicant or the non-native is used as an energy source by the bioeradicant. Most probably it is acombination of both that will be most effective.ERH and EICA are continuing processes throughout the residency on non-natives in the newecosystem, including failed introductions. The evolution of bioeradicants begins at the moment of introductionof the non-native. After the non-native is eradicated, the native bioeradicants remain in the system with genesand physical/chemical structures already in place should the non-native or a relative try to reenter theecosystem. This allows the native bioeradicants to swiftly deal with new attempts of invasion by the non-nativeor its close relatives.Bioeradication starts being effective when native bioeradicants evolve beyond the effects of ERH andfaster than EICA can keep pace with the evolving new defenses and adaptations of native organisms and thechanging conditions which cause them to either use the non-native as an energy source or out-compete it foran essential resource.The EICA/Bioeradicant process is a continuing process until the non-native goes extinct in the invadedecosystem.Combined, EICA and ERH explain the first parts of an invasion, up into the logarithmic growth. Whatthey do not explain is the evolution of native organisms into bioeradicants and bioeradicant systems whenpopulation densities begin to level and crash at similar rate as their increase in the ecosystem. When plotted,this will be similar to a bell curve or Gaussian distribution as natives adapt to the non-natives and drive them toextinction by outcompeting with them for resources or by the non-native becoming an energy source for thebioeradicant.The highest probability is that a bioeradicant system develops which contains multiple organisms usingmultiple strategies which outcompete the non-native for a critical resource(s) and/or use it as an energysource. That this will be a system means that it will be slower to form and become obvious due to theincreased complexity as compared to a biocontrol or a bioeradicant, even though individual components willdevelop at different rates and become apparent at different times, seasonal and temporal.There is a critical point in time or critical population density of the non-native needed for abioeradicant/a bioeradicant system to develop and target the non-native. Once this point is reached there willbe decreases in the population size and density of the non-native in line with a Gaussian curve, i.e. atemporary continuation of the increase in population size of the non-native followed by a plateau or peak andthen a decrease as the effects of the bioeradicant (system) begins to take effect. The more native congenersand confamiliars of the non-native and its biocontrols, the potentially lower the critical point will be on the curveboth in time and the population density of the non-native. There is also a spatial component in that the closerspaced members of the non-native are, the easier it is to spread genes, behavioral patterns and members ofthe bioeradicant (system) to other individuals in the non-native population. In other words, critical densitiesmay be the overall population size of a non-native organism in an ecosystem along with the population densityof organisms in a set area and the density of the potential bioeradicants. This is seen with Lonicera morrowii,Rosa multiflora and Ailanthus altissima. All three invasives not only have a high density of individuals in anecosystem, but have dense stands of individuals. Thus the spread of the bioeradicants, their genes andbehaviors are doubly enhanced due to stand density and the overall density of the invasive in an ecosystem.The biggest question asked about bioeradication is why it has not been seen and recorded? Theanswer is threefold. The first reason is that we are not looking for it. Second, bioeradication may happenbefore we are aware of a problem it took to extinction. Third, is that this may take many years to hundreds ofyears to happen. In essence, the process of bioeradication may happen too fast to be noticed. Or, it mayhappen too slowly to be noticed by a researcher or school of researchers.The most important part of what is being presented is that it is not complicated. Humans have thehorrid ability to complicate the simple and obvious. They also have the destructive desire and ability to tinker.After they are done tinkering, bad data is gathered and called good because the numbers meet certainparameters. Whereas, if the tinkering was not done in the first place, there is no need to tinker again and the
  5. 5. data gathered is actually good. A prime example of the tinkering mindset is seen in my health issues –diabetes and bipolar II. For diabetes, instead of eating healthy, avoiding toxic chemical rich foods andexercising, medications are prescribed, artificial sweeteners are suggested and a whole industry is developedthat would not be necessary if we did not tinker with the foods in the first place and went out for a walk everyday. The same is true with bipolar II. Instead of dealing holistically with the condition, we are fed medicationsuntil we are insensate and celebrate because we have “controlled” it. We do the same with ecologicalsystems, tinker until it breaks and then tinker again to try to fix it. Then celebrate our apparent successes.Finally, biology and ecology are tremendously complex. Reducing phenomena down to one or tworules or variables is unrealistic. As scientists, we search for absolute and straightforward answers in thesimplest terms. Unfortunately, for every apparent absolute rule in biology and ecology, there are many shadesand variations. What is written here is an outline in the broadest sense of what happens in an ecosystem, notfinitely detailed descriptions with all the variables. For instance, with Ailanthus altissima, the herbivorousinsects which feed on it and the pathogenic fungi which infect it require different conditions to flourish. What istrue in a field is not necessarily true on the edge of a wetland where there is more available water. Lowmoisture favors the herbivorous insects. Higher moisture favors the pathogenic fungi. Both sets of organismare present in both situations. However, the effects of each organism differ in the different conditions, eventhough the combination is often fatal in both situations to Ailanthus altissima.Constructive input is asked for so this concept can be strengthened and safer practices developed thanare presently used.The presentations are at: it is time for me to take a walk in the woods.Richard Gardnerrtgardner3@yahoo.comJune 19, 2013