Strategy to control the invasive alien tree Miconia calvescens in Pacific islands: Eradication, containment or something else?

By: , and 
Edited by: C.R. VeitchM.N. Clout, and D. R. Towns

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Abstract

Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) is a notorious plant invader in the tropical islands of French Polynesia, Hawaii and New Caledonia. A small tree native to Central and South America, it was first introduced as an ornamental in private botanic gardens in Tahiti (1937), Honolulu (1961), and Nouméa (1970s) where it escaped, became naturalised, and formed dense monospecific stands. More than 80,000 ha are currently invaded in French Polynesia, 10,000 ha in the Hawaiian Islands and 140 ha in New Caledonia. Control programmes have been under way in the Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai) and French Polynesia (Raiatea, Tahaa, Nuku Hiva, Fatu Hiva) since the early 1990s, and in New Caledonia (Province Sud) since 2006. Despite more than 15 years of intensive control efforts and millions of plants destroyed, eradication has not been achieved in any of these islands, mainly because the species has multiple features that thwart its elimination (e.g., prolific seed production, active dispersal by alien and native frugivorous birds, large and persistent soil seed bank, shade-tolerance), combined with the difficulty of detecting and destroying plants on rough terrain and steep slopes, insufficient control frequency, and limited financial and human resources. Miconia’s life cycle requires at least four years growth from seedling to fruiting. Consequently, prevention of fruit production may be an effective management strategy for small populations. This “juvenilization” process may allow the eradication of small populations when carefully conducted over a quarter century. 

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Title Strategy to control the invasive alien tree Miconia calvescens in Pacific islands: Eradication, containment or something else?
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher IUCN
Publisher location Gland, Switzerland
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Island invasives: Eradication and management
First page 91
Last page 96
Conference Title International Conference on Island Invasives
Conference Location Tamaki Campus, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Conference Date February 8-12, 2010
Country French Republic, United States
State French Polynesia, Hawai'i, New Caledonia
Other Geospatial Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Nuku Hiva, Oahu, Province Sud, Raiatea, Tahaa
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N