Weed seed predation by ants in the crop growing areas of Western Australia

David Minkey

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    193 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    [Truncated abstract] In the crop growing areas of Western Australia, two economically important weed species, Lolium rigidum Gaud. (annual ryegrass) and Raphanus raphanistrum L. (wild radish), have evolved widespread herbicide resistance to multiple chemistry groups. Consequently, grain growers in the region have adopted an integrated approach to weed management that includes many non herbicide tools, however many more are needed as these weed species become increasingly more difficult to control. This thesis examines, in a series of field trials carried out in the Western Australian crop growing area, the potential for weed seed predation of annual ryegrass and wild radish by naturally occurring granivores as a new weed management tool for grain growers . . . The study discusses the implications of these results with the view to manipulating predation of weed seed through agricultural management practices. Ants were shown to be the dominant seed predator in this environment, especially in the centre of fields. The study has identified that the ant species Melophorus turneri (Forel), Monomorium rothsteini (Forel), Pheidole hartmeyeri (Forel) and Rhytidoponera metallica (Smith) are potential biological control agents for annual ryegrass seeds while P. hartmeyeri was identified as the only species suitable for biological control of wild radish seed pods. Ants were found to be sensitive to disturbance and some to crop residue type and these effects are discussed in relation to seed removal. This study of weed seed predation in agricultural fields is the most complete in this environment and can be used to inform further work in this area. It has identified that naturally occurring granivores can be used as a weed management tool.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2006

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