For a detailed account on the management of the spread of Miconia calvescens please read: Miconia calvescens (Miconia/Velvet Tree) Management Information. The information in this document is summarised below.
Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Miconia calvescens for Hawaii and other Pacific islands was prepared with a resulting score of 14, meaning it is likely to cause significant ecological or economic harm in the Pacific. Csurhes (2008) has prepared an assessment for Australia.
A range of fungi, weevils, leaf-feeding beetles, nematodes, wasps, butterflies and moths have been found in South and Central America which damage miconia. . In miconia’s invaded range in Hawaii, the non-native Chinese rose beetle (Adoretus sinicus) can cause up to 50% defoliation on individual leaves, but it has never been widespread and has never been observed to cause mortality (Medeiros et al. 1997). The high level of host specificity of the leaf-defoliating sawfly (Atomacera petroa) makes it a good potential control for M. cavescens (Badenes-Perez & Johnson 2007a). Since miconia seeds are dispersed by birds, fruit- and flower-eating insects including could help manage this weed (Badenes-Perez & Johnson 2007b). A fruit-feeding gall wasp (Allorhogas sp.) and a fruit-feeding beetle (Apion sp.) were evaluated for host specificity in Brazil by Badenes-Perez and Johnson (2007a). Other natural enemies (especially insects) are currently being sought in Brazil (since 1995) (please see Seixas Barreto & Killgore 2007 for further information), Costa Rica (please see Picanco et al. 2005 for further information), the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
Legislation: Laws prohibiting the sale of Miconia calvescens in Queensland was passed in 1997 (Cshures 1998).
Education and Awareness: "Ho'ike o Haleakala" is an environmental education curriculum specific to Maui, produced by a partnership of school teachers, agencies, and community organisations, led by Haleakala National Park (Loope Starr & Starr 2004). The curriculum is available online (www.hear.org/hoike).
A growing interest of the public on Maui in meaningful hands-on ecological restoration projects is partially related to a growing interest in the heritage of the native Hawaiian people and proliferation of potential volunteer projects (www.hear.org/volunteer/maui/). Volunteers participate in a number of restoration projects, including one involving endangered dry forest plant species on private lands (Loope Starr & Starr 2004).
Campaigns to inform the public of the threat of miconia, including fliers and media coverage, were launched in the Society Islands (Meyer & Malet 1997).
Integrated management: Combining physical removal with chemical treatment has been employed to control miconia in the Society Islands. Trees (greater than four to five meters) were cut with a machete or a small chain saw and herbicide was systematically applied to the exposed stumps to prevent resprouting. After several trial with different herbicides, Gbnoxone (Triclopyr + 2,4-D) in diesel solution (one liter per 20 liters) applied carefully to cut stumps provided effective control with few resproutings compared with other chemicals used. 2,4-D is also said to be one of the most acceptable chemicals from an environmental point of view since it is not residual (Meyer & Malet 1997).
Location Specific Management Information
Miconia calvescens has been a “declared weed” since 1997 (Csurhes 1998) and was included in the Australia federal government’s “Four Tropical Weeds Eradication” programme that began in 2001.
Preventative Measures: Invasive plant species are usually first studied and reported after they have become extensively naturalised - at a time when eradication of the entire population is no longer feasible (Csurhes 1998). In contrast Csurhes (1998) draws attention to a potentially invasive plant, M. calvescens, which appears to have a very limited distribution in Australia. Csurhes (1998) presented an assessment of the plant's pest potential and made recommendations for preventive control. Climatic modelling suggested that M. calvescens has the potential to invade tropical and sub-tropical rainforests of northern and eastern Australia (Cshures 1997).
Hester et al. (2010) developed a simulation model that assesses biological, search and economic components of the eradication effort at the M. calvescens infestation at El Arish, the largest of the invaded sites in Queensland. Results suggest that eradication may be achieved within several decades, if resources are increased slightly from their current levels and if there is a long-term commitment to funding the eradication programme.
If you think you have found any of these plants please contact your nearest local government pest officer or Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries office. Further information is available online at Queensland Government or Weeds Australia.
Miconia calvescens was introduced to suitable habitat in Hawaii in the 1960s (Medeiros et al. 1997). Its invasiveness in Tahiti was known as early as 1977 (Meyer 1998b; B.H. Gagné, pers. comm. to L. Loope 2010), and it was known to be increasingly present on the Big Island from about that time on, but its sale was not banned until 1992 and significant control did not begin for a few additional years. The Big Island Melastome Action Committee (BIMAC, formed in 1995), became the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) in 2000, working to control M. calvescens populations on the 10,000 km2 island of Hawaii. Control focused on the following efforts: Increase public awareness and involvement in miconia control through media and public information campaigns; open a miconia hotline to receive reports of miconia sightings; establish and monitor the distribution of miconia on Hawaii Island through public sightings and through ground and helicopter surveys; maintain a database to track and evaluate this information; control/eradicate miconia populations through a combination of mechanical removal and chemical treatment followed by repeated visits to control plants establishing from the seed bank; and initiate research and development of effective biocontrol agents targeting miconia. On the ground, miconia was controlled by basal bark herbicide (20% Garlon in forest crop oil) (Denslow et al. 2007; HISC 2008).
It is prohibited to import, propagate or plant M. calvescens in French Polynesia or transfer any plant parts between islands. Their destruction is permitted.
Manual/Chemical Control: Manual and chemical control operations for miconia have been underway since 1992 on the island of Raiatea, since 1996 on the island of Tahaa and since 1997 on the islands Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva (Office of Rural Development, Environment Directorate, Delegation for Research) in collaboration with the French army. Between 1992 and 2007, more than 2 million miconia plants, including almost 4000 reproducing trees, have been destroyed over about 450 hectares (J.-Y. Meyer Pers. Comm. 2007).
Biological Control: The Delegation for Research (in the context of a collaboration between French Polynesia, Hawaii and Brazil) has carried out studies on biological control against miconia since 1997. Following the early stages of finding natural enemies of miconia in its area of origin (South America), and laboratory testing for efficiency and host specificity, the introduction of a biological control agent (the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides forma specialis miconiae) was carried out in Tahiti in 2000. By 2006, approximately 15% of inoculated miconia plants died (30% for seedlings under 50 cm) and up to 50% suffered severe leaf or stem damage (J.-Y. Meyer Pers. Comm. 2007).
Research and Knowledge: Since 1988, a miconia research and control programme has been developed by the Research Institute for Development (IRD). The objectives were to study the ecology and distribution of miconia and find an effective method of control (J.-Y. Meyer Pers. Comm. 2007).
Grand Terre Is. (New Caledonia)
Since early 2006, a chemical and mechanical control programme to combat miconia has been set up in Province Sud by the Department of Environment (DENV) at the only known infestation site (private property) near dense rainforest (A.C. Goarant, pers. comm. 2007).
The current management goal on Kauai Island is eradication, through detection and removal of potential fruiting trees through surveillance in nearly 1,400 ha, by foot or helicopter. The Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) had not seen a fruiting tree from December 2004 to November 2009; however, several fruiting trees were detected and treated in late 2009 (K. Gunderson, KISC, pers. comm. to L. Loope, 2010).
Control efforts began on Maui in 1991 and continue to expand Seven populations of Miconia calvescens were found surrounding Helani Gardens, Maui where it was initially presumed contained. Over 20 000 plants were removed in between 1991 and 1993 with assistance of volunteers. In 1993 a much larger concentration of miconia (1000 fruiting trees) was discovered within a 150 hectare area on a 500 year old lava flow (100 to 350 meters elevation). A multiagency effort at eradication was mobilized by the Melastome Action Committee and the East Maui Watershed Partnership, both of which include representatives from federal, state, county, and private entities. An integrated approach to control including helicopter spraying of herbicides, the use of bulldozers to establish access roads, and ground crews to cut and spray herbicides (5% Garlon 4 with surfactant) over 1400 acres of Maui (Loope 1997; Chimera et al. 2000).
Maui expends approximately USD 1 million per year on miconia related activities (Teya Penniman, pers. comm., in Burnett et al. 2007a).
Gooding et al. (2007) explained the Maui miconia program as follows: “Spot application of herbicides using helicopters as a platform for treating individual miconia trees has been used to supplement on-the-ground effort since 1995, with the goal of attaining and maintaining a condition of no fruiting trees. Yet each fruiting tree can annually produce millions of bird-dispersed seeds, providing potential for explosive spread and population growth. By 2001, it became apparent that the scope of the control program was inadequate. During 2003-2006, Haleakala National Park provided leadership and vastly increased resources for miconia control on Maui, recognizing the threat of this invasive tree to the park’s rainforests of Kipahulu Valley, arguably the most biologically diverse and intact rain forest in the U.S. An area of 14,000 hectares was brought under annual reconnaissance. The number of mature trees detected and killed annually area-wide was reduced from 7,710 in 2003 to 465 in 2006, demonstrating overall programmatic progress toward the goal of zero fruiting trees. But as of early 2007, the ability of the national park to contribute major funding to the effort has been sharply reduced, and partners are scrambling for compensatory funding from other sources in order to maintain momentum.”
Using optimal control theory, Burnett, Kaiser and Roumasset (2007a) compared policy options for miconia; for the islands analysed, they contend that the status quo policy for miconia is inefficient. The removal expenditures on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii are deemed inadequate to remove annual growth and, therefore, simply postpone the growth of the invasive population towards carrying capacity and high, sustained damages. The optimal policy would involve spending more now to reduce the population thus allowing lower removal expenditures in the future. They contend that projected potential gains from switching to the optimal policy are large.
New Caledonia (Nouvelle Calédonie)
Local authorities realized in 2004 that miconia invasion was well underway. The invaded area is currently estimated to be 140 ha between 200 and 650 m elevation, which consists of a single major infestation along with isolated trees in small gullies with steep slopes. From 2006 to 2009, 16 ha had been treated, and more than 165,000 plants destroyed, including at least 6 mature trees in 2009. A single isolated plant was recently discovered and destroyed in 2006 in a private garden at Yienghen near Mount Panié located at 450 km north of Nouméa, but no other plants were detected since. (A.C. Goarant & J.Y. Meyer, pers. comm. to L. Loope 2010).
Legislation: A law prohibiting the sale of Miconia calvescens in Queensland was passed in 1997 (Cshures 1998; Murphy et al. 2008b). All miconia species are Class 1 declared plants under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 (Queensland Government (Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries). 2007). A class 1 pest is not commonly present in Queensland and, if introduced, would cause a serious economic, environmental or social impact; landholders are required to keep their properties free of declared Class 1 weeds; it is a serious offence to introduce, keep or sell Class 1 weeds without a permit (Queensland Government (Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries 2007).
Conant and Nagai (1998) reported the Oahu miconia population resulted from six known original plantings of individual Miconia calvescens plants on Oahu and gave details. An eradication attempt was begun by volunteers in the early 1990s. Eradication effort has since been sustained by the Oahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC). OISC allocated USD 321, 000 to miconia control in 2005 (Ryan Smith, pers. comm., in Burnett et al. 2007a).
Economists have weighed in constructively over the past decade, particularly in regard to the tremendous potential impact of miconia on watersheds in Hawaii (e.g., Kaiser 2006; Burnett et al. 2007a, 2007b). The greatest potential impact is on the island of Oahu, where the majority of the State’s human population and water demand is located. Oahu has extremely good aquifers that are recharged continually by rainfall, but miconia invasion could potentially cause tens or hundreds of millions of USD damage annually if invasion similar to Tahiti’s were to occur, interfering with aquifer recharge through increasing runoff and/or evapotranspiration. Highly accurate economic forecasting, however, would depend on obtaining better information on the precise effect of miconia on the watersheds.
More precise information on the effect of miconia on the watersheds will present a challenge to obtain, since it would presumably require detailed, long-term research in Tahiti. Preliminary findings suggest that miconia and other invasive plants have negative impacts on the hydrologic processes of forested watersheds (T.W. Giambelluca, pers. comm. to L. Loope, 2010). Habitat-modifying invasive plant species shade out native understory species, exposing soil surface, almost certainly contributing to increased runoff and erosion. Some alien invasive species are likely less effective than native trees in allowing rain to slowly infiltrate watersheds and instead create runoff. But only recently have good evapotranspiration measurements for native cloud forest in Hawaii been obtained (Giambelluca et al. 2009). There is evidence that strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) has higher evapotranspiration rates than ohia forest, but this has not been fully documented (T. Giambelluca, pers. comm., 2010); what has been well demonstrated for strawberry guava is that it reduces (vs. native ohia cloud forest) the proportion of rainfall that becomes available for ground water recharge (Takahashi et al. 2010, in press).
Raiatea Is. (Society Islands)
In 1988 a Miconia Research Program was launched. Beginning in 1992 an intense removal effort was undertaken to combat its initial invasion stage only covering 242 ha (Meyer & Malet 1997). From 1992 to 1996 M. calvescens plants were removed on Raiatea through manual removal and chemical treatment by volunteers and the French Army coordinated by the Service du Development (Meyer & Malet 1997).
Tahiti Is. (Society Islands)
Miconia calvescens was declared a noxious weed in Tahiti in 1990.
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2. Badenes-Perez, Francisco R.; Johnson, M. Tracy., 2007. Ecology and impact of Allorhogas sp (Hymenoptera : Braconidae) and Apion sp (Coleoptera : Curculionoidea) on fruits of Miconia calvescens DC (Melastomataceae) in Brazil Biological Control. 43(3). DEC 2007. 317-322.
3. Badenes-Perez, Francisco R.; Johnson, M. Tracy., 2007. Ecology, host specificity and impact of Atomacera petroa Smith (Hymenoptera : Argidae) on Miconia calvescens DC (Melastomataceae) Biological Control. 43(1). OCT 2007. 95-101.
4. Burckhardt, Daniel, Paul Hanson, and Luis Madrigal., 2005. Diclidophlebia lucens, n. sp. (Hemiptera Psyllidae) from Costa Rica, A Potential Control Agent of Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) in Hawaii. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington Article: pp. 741–749. Volume 107, Issue 4 (October 2005)
5. Burckhardt, Daniel; Morais, Elisangela G. F.; Picanco, Marcelo C., 2006. Diclidophlebia smithi sp n., a new species of jumping plant-louse (Hemiptera, Psylloidea) from Brazil associated with Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae). Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft. 79(3-4). 2006. 241-250.
6. Burnett, K.M., B.A. Kaiser, and J.A. Roumasset. 2007b. Invasive species control over space and time: Miconia calvescens on Oahu, Hawaii. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 39: 125-32.
7. Burnett, Kimberly, Brooks Kaiser, James Roumasset., 2007. Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Journal of Forest Economics 13 (2007) 151–167
11. Conant, P., Medeiros, A. C. and Loope, L. L. 1997. A multi-agency containment program for miconia (Miconia calvescens), an invasive tree in Hawaiian rain forests in Luken, J. and Thieret, J. (eds.), Assessment and Management of Invasive Plants.
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14. Gooding, J., T. Penniman, and L. Loope. 2007. Results of accelerated efforts for management of Miconia calvescens on Maui, Hawaii: 2003-2006. Abstract of poster presentation at 9th International Conference on the Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions, Perth, Western Australia, 17-21 September, 2007.
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21. Mack, R.N., and S.K. Foster. 2009. Chapter 3, Eradicating Plant Invaders: Combining Ecologically-Based Tactics and Broad-Sense Strategy. In Inderjit (ed.), Management of Invasive Weeds, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 35-60.
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33. Seixas, C. D. S; Barreto, R. W.; Freitas, L. G.; Monteiro, F. T; Oliveira, R. D. L, 2004a. Ditylenchus drepanocercus rediscovered in the Neotropics causing angular leaf spots on Miconia calvescens Journal of Nematology. 36(4). DEC 2004. 481-486.
34. Seixas, C. D. S; Barreto, R. W.; Matsuoka, K., 2002. First report of a phytoplasma-associated witches' broom disease of Miconia calvescens in Brazil. Plant Pathology (Oxford). 51(6). December 2002. 801.
35. Seixas, Claudine D.S. & Robert W. Barreto., 2007. Fungal pathogens of Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) from Brazil, with reference to classical biological control. Mycologia, 99(1), 2007, pp. 99-111
36. Seixas, Claudine Dinali Santos; Barreto, Robert Weingart; Freitas, Leandro Grassi; Maffia, Luiz Antonio; Monteiro, Fernanda Testa., 2004b. Ditylenchus drepanocercus (Nematoda), a potential biological control agent for Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae): host-specificity and epidemiology Biological Control. 31(1). September 2004b. 29-37.
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