Conservation concern as an exotic aphid has been detected on Kangaroo Island
Invasive aphid could endanger endangered plant species on Kangaroo Island as University of South Australia researchers confirm Australia’s first sighting Lugentis aphids on the island’s Dudley Peninsula.
This is another blow to the environment of Kangaroo Island, especially following the Black Summer bushfires which decimated more than half of the island and 96% of Flinders Chase National Park.
Collected by wildlife ecologist, Associate Professor Topa Petit and identified by colleagues in the Washington State Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the black aphids were found feeding on Senecio seedlings. odoratus, a native species of daisy, commonly known as scented groundsel.
Of 16 native Senecio species on the island, at least ten are of conservation concern.
Native to North America, black sap-sucking aphids have spread to several continents over the past 20 years. This first report of the pest in Australia.
Assoc Prof Petit says that exotic aphid species could threaten plants in the Compositae (daisy) family.
“Aphids were cured by several native ant species that fed on their honeydew, showing easy integration for the pest into its new environment,” says Dr Petit.
“The presence of Lugentis aphids on Kangaroo Island could have serious consequences for the survival of Senecio seedlings and related species – as well as unknown consequences for native ant communities. ”
Currently, 1,257 of Australia’s threatened and endangered species are directly affected by 207 invasive plants, 57 animals and three pathogens. The most recent estimates found that the cost of controlling invasive species and economic losses to farmers in 2011-12 was A $ 13.6 billion.
Once established across Australia, invasive species can be very difficult to eradicate.
Entomological diagnostician Cameron Brumley of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, and geneticists Monica Kehoe and Cuiping Wang, examined the aphid and found matching DNA in a collection in Hurstville, NSW, indicating the greater spread of the aphid across Australia. The authorities have been alerted.
“It is still not clear how some fragile species on Kangaroo Island cope with the bush fires of last year, so I recommend paying attention to aphids present on plants related to daisies, on the island, but also on the continent given the probable presence of the aphid in other states. Its distribution must be mapped “, explains Dr Petit.
“This aphid was probably introduced to Australia on ornamental plants. Local native plants and gardens provide better habitats for native fauna and lower risk of invasion. We must learn to appreciate our remarkable native flora.”
Notes to Editors:
Australia has a long history of invasive species, with over 3000 species introduced to Australia since 1770. Some of the more notorious examples of invasive species include:
- The Cane Toad – Introduced to Australia in the 1930s as a means of biological control of sugarcane beetles, its population has grown from 102 to over 200 million, wreaking havoc in the Australian ecosystem at a rapid pace 50 km each year.
- PATERSON’S CURSE (or Salvation Jane) – This purple flowering plant was introduced to Australian gardens in the 1880s, but quickly became an endemic weed. Now the target of biological control, it costs the Australian economy more than $ 250 million per year due to lost productivity in pastures, costs of control and contamination of wool.
- EUROPEAN RABBITS – Introduced for hunting and food in the 1850s, Australia’s new rabbit population exploded, destroying crops, native flora and land. Biological controls, in particular the myxoma virus and the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, made it possible to control the populations.
- RED FIRE ANTS – Native to South America, they are very invasive and aggressive ants that have a poisonous, repetitive sting that can cause painful pustules and anaphylaxis. The federal government now has a 10-year, $ 411 million plan to eradicate red ants from southeast Queensland.
Media contact: Annabel Mansfield T: +61 8 8302 0351 M: +61 417 717 504 E: [email protected]
Researcher: Assoc Prof S. “Topa” Petit T: +61 8 8302 5194 E: [email protected]
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