Purple loosestrife biocontrol agent aggregation and overwintering are influenced by tidal inundation

Elise R. Ferrarese, Ralph J. Garono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have concluded that biological control of Lythrum salicaria may not be possible in tidal environments because the biological control agents are easily removed from their host plants by tidal action. In this study, we examined the spatial relationships between L. salicaria, its biocontrol agents, and the agents' feeding damage in relation to elevation using Spatial Analysis by Distance IndicEs (SADIE) at three sites within the Columbia River Estuary (CRE), USA. We then compared the abundances of overwintering Galerucella pusilla adults recovered along an elevational gradient at two sites within the CRE. Galerucella pusilla aggregated most frequently at elevations above mean high water; however, clusters of feeding damage tended to be evenly spread across all elevations. We found significantly more overwintering beetles at high elevations than low elevations, despite similarities in the availability of overwintering habitat (number of dead stems). Our results indicate that although biological control of L. salicaria may be possible at higher elevations in tidal estuaries such as the CRE, it will not likely be an effective means of controlling infestations at low elevation areas. An approach that integrates multiple management strategies to control L. salicaria is therefore recommended for tidal ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank F.S. Grevstad, S. Long, C. Wille, and A. Jarvis for help in the field, J. Hendrickson for his GIS work, F.S. Grevstad for reviewing field protocols,and S.S. Schooler and E.M. Coombs for reviewing an early version of the manuscript. This project was funded by USACE grant W9127N-06-C-0023.


  • Columbia River Estuary
  • Galerucella pusilla
  • Lythrum salicaria
  • Nanophyes marmoratus
  • Spatial Analysis by Distance IndicEs (SADIE)


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