Arthropod associates of Kenyan buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris): a field survey for biological control candidates of a globally important invasive grass

Morrison, Colin R.; Plowes, Robert M.; Ng'iru, Ivy ORCID:; Rhodes, Aaron C.; Martins, Dino J.; Gilbert, Lawrence E.. 2023 Arthropod associates of Kenyan buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris): a field survey for biological control candidates of a globally important invasive grass. African Entomology, 31, e16178. 10, pp.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N536422JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (3MB) | Preview


Invasive species are the second largest contributor to biodiversity loss and drivers of ecosystem change. Buffelgrass is a C4, perennial grass native to Africa and Asia that was widely introduced across tropical and subtropical rangelands as livestock forage. Buffelgrass reduces native biodiversity and ecosystem stability in its introduced range when it escapes livestock pastures. Understanding the ecology of insects associated with buffelgrass in its native range may provide an understanding of invasion processes and biological control opportunities where buffelgrass has become an invasive challenge. Here, we present the results of a six-year survey of herbivorous arthropods of a native buffelgrass population from Kenya. Buffelgrass was examined for externally and internally feeding insects of vegetative and reproductive tissues. We also categorised buffelgrass detritivores and parasitoids that may use buffelgrass herbivores as hosts. The samples were photographed and Sanger sequenced to identify them to the lowest possible taxonomic ranking. We collected information on sample abundances, phenologies, tissues consumed, and putative diet breadths. We identified 25 morphospecies representing seven orders and 16 families. The putative host plant specialisation was as high as 67% for Diptera. Phenological variation in herbivore presence correlated with seasonal rainfall and provided a guide for when to conduct follow-up biological control agent searches. The most abundant herbivore was a gall midge (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) that inhabits buffelgrass culms. Additional research should focus on bringing this species into containment where host choice trials can be conducted to determine if it is truly monophagous and assess its impact on buffelgrass growth.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1021-3589
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biological control, invasive alien grass, Cecidomyiidae, gall midge, herbivore, introduced, specialist
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 07 Dec 2023 16:12 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...