Development of beneficial biological agents for invasive species control.
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Development of beneficial biological agents for invasive species control.

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    Noxious and invasive weeds readily colonize disturbed areas and outcompete and displace native and other desirable vegetation. This can result in a loss of pollinators (i.e. animals such as birds, bees, and other insects that move pollen between plants making them very important to plant reproduction), wildlife food and nesting resources, and decrease biodiversity in general. In cases where invasive plants establish monocultures (i.e. the growth of only one plant species), or where remedial management of noxious or invasive plants must be employed, winter cover can be lost and soils destabilized, the filtering quality of wetlands and riparian areas are diminished, and siltation is increased.

    The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) spends over $300,000 per year purchasing herbicides to control exotic weeds. This figure does not include administrative and labor costs to apply herbicides. Current practices of pesticide use and mowing are costly and often high impact, causing even further disturbance and thus perpetuating the cycle of colonization by invasive plants. Labor, material, equipment, and fuel are other costs incurred by SHA. The objective of this study was to develop methods for the use of biological control that would provide SHA with a sustainable, cost effective, and beneficial method for dealing with noxious and invasive weeds on highway rights-of-way.

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