Are exotic natural enemies an effective way of controlling invasive plants?
Classical biological control (the introduction of exotic natural enemies) is often advocated as a tool for managing invasive species. Here, we review the effectiveness of biocontrol and explore the factors that determine whether it is an appropriate response to the invasive species problem. Although there have been some successes, biocontrol is generally poorly evaluated and, in many cases, its impact is unknown. In particular, there is limited understanding of the nature of the invasive species problem and no clear targets against which 'success' can be gauged. In addition, exotic natural enemies could act as invasive species in their own right. To improve the role of biocontrol in invasive species management, we need a better ecological understanding of the impacts of both the biocontrol agents and the target invasive species.
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