|TAME Melaleuca: The Areawide Management and Evaluation of Melaleuca
Cressida S. Silvers and Paul D. Pratt
USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Melaleuca quinquenervia (common name melaleuca) is a myrtaceous tree of Australian origin that has become a noxious weed in Florida, occupying approximately 200,000 ha of agricultural, riparian and wetland systems. This invasive tree is competitively superior to many native plants and rangeland grasses with infestation resulting in degradation of native wildlife habitat and of the limited grazing lands in south Florida. In addition, melaleuca degrades vital waterways that significantly contribute to fisheries productivity, act as nursery sites for fish and crustaceans, regulate run-off quantity and quality, mitigate flooding, and control erosion. Nearly $25 million has been spent over the past decade in managing melaleuca infestations, yet the weed continues to proliferate, particularly on private lands.
Control of invasive plants such as melaleuca is essential to the conservation and expansion of native species. Melaleuca control is therefore integral to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) objective of achieving restoration and sustainability of south Florida’s natural ecosystem. The Melaleuca Management Plan, developed by the interagency Melaleuca Task Force in accordance with CERP, recommends the integration of multiple control approaches, with an emphasis on biological control, as the most effective method for long-term, sustainable management of melaleuca.
The Areawide Management and Evaluation of Melaleuca, or TAME Melaleuca, is a collaborative project recently established to demonstrate and promote the practical, integrated weed management strategies outlined in the Melaleuca Management Plan, including the emphasis on biological control. In the course of this five-year project, research and demonstration sites will be set up in varied habitats in south Florida where public and private landowners are highly motivated to manage melaleuca. Project activities include assessing melaleuca’s geographic distribution, the impacts of control tactics and the socio-economic factors associated with current and proposed control tactics; researching impacts of control tactics on the weed, interactions among biological control agents, and non-target effects of tactics; and technology transfer. By partnering with federal, state, local and private land managers on these goals, TAME Melaleuca intends to develop a sustainable and integrated melaleuca control program for the long-term control of this invasive weed.
TAME Melaleuca is funded by the USDA Agricultural Research Service‘s Areawide Pest Management Initiative. Cooperators include the USDA ARS and APHIS, the South Florida Water Management District, the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Cressida S. Silvers, USDA-ARS IPRL, 3205 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314; Phone: 954 475 0541 x144, Fax: 954 476 9169, email@example.com