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Judith H. Myers and Dawn R. Bazely
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
2003, 313 pp.
Prices: $45 paperback; $110, hard cover, $36, e-book
ISBN: 0521357780 (paperback), 0521355168 (hard cover), 0511058985 (e-book)
The title of this book suggests a concentration on invasive plants, and that is certainly the major focus of this book. However, this book is not only about invasive plants. Phytophagous insects are prominently included in discussions and examples throughout much of the book; insects can have major influences on plant ecology, which is the major reason they are used for weed control. In writing this book, the Canadian authors have drawn on their extensive expertise in the ecology of phytophagous insects and plants and use of insects for biological control of weeds. This book is therefore a “must-have” for entomologists interested in ecological relations between phytophagous insects and invasive plants and manipulation of these relations through biological control of weeds.
Upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students will find that this book provides up-to-date coverage of these subjects. Professional entomologists working in biological control of weeds will find that the literature cited in this book and emphasis on basic ecological relationships, along with current issues such as nontarget effects, offer refreshing ways to think about use of phytophagous insects for control of invasive plants. The lower price of the paperback version makes it easy to purchase.
This book is composed of 10 chapters and an appendix. The first four chapters describe the importance and scope of the invasive plant problem and the possibility of being able to predict plant invasions. The fifth chapter covers population ecology of invasive plants, including discussions of different ways to look at population regulation and methods for studying demography; this chapter, of course, also begins the discussions of ecological interactions between insects and plants. Chapter 7 discusses many major aspects of biological control of weeds using arthropods. The subject of Chapter 8 is modeling, with most of the models concerning population regulation and biological control. Chapter 9 discusses different options for controlling invasive weeds, culminating in merging classical biological control with other strategies in Integrated Weed Management programs. An appendix with basic methods for studies of plant ecology is provided, in part to facilitate the authors’ appeal for increased documentation of the results of control programs.
This book is amply illustrated, most frequently using graphs to support the many examples of relationships described in the text. For those interested in biological control of weeds, the classic picture of the Cactoblastis Memorial Hall in Queensland is also included. In addition, 34 tables and 24 text boxes provide detailed examples from the many different systems that are described in support of the text.
In some lights, the phytophagous insects introduced for biological control of weeds can be seen as potential invasives too. Myers and Bazely confront the potential problems of biological control of weeds head-on. They discuss the many questions and paradoxes in uses of this control strategy, e.g., who should take responsibility for control programs resulting in unintended effects, especially when plants were intentionally introduced. The authors marvel at the ease with which new plant species are introduced, compared with introductions of insects for classical biological control. However, regardless of the difficulties and unpredictability in developing a successful biological control program to control invasive weeds, Myers and Bazely return to the fact that, with care, classical biological control still provides the best possibilities for control of many invasive weeds.
Ann E. Hajek
Department of Entomology
Ithaca, NY 14853-0901
Vol. 51, No.3, Fall 2005