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Reference Number NF0414
Title Pest population behaviour in relation to the biological chemistry of willows; toward optimisation of nonchemical control
Status Completed
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES(Bio-Energy, Applications for heat and electricity) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES (Biological Sciences) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Project Contact
No email address given
Rothamsted Research
Award Type Standard
Funding Source DEFRA
Start Date 01 June 2000
End Date 30 May 2003
Duration 48 months
Total Grant Value £175,000
Industrial Sectors No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Region East of England
Programme DEFRA Bioenergy
Investigators Principal Investigator Project Contact , Rothamsted Research (100.000%)
Web Site
Objectives Objectives not supplied
Abstract This project aims to identify and exploit the interactions between pest herbivores and their willow hosts to develop a non-chemical approach to controlling damage to short rotation coppice (SRC) willows. Depending upon specific chemical compounds that are present in leaves and bark, pest herbivores are either attracted or repelled from feeding on willow. This can be exploited in a management strategy that relies on using the willow’s own defences and not on the application of pesticides. Such a strategy would require the use of willow varieties that differ in their attractiveness or repulsion to pests. There are parallels between the sensory acuities of insects and mammals, so that the strategy could be targeted against pest species of both groups. The work will initially focus on Phratora vulgatissima (the blue willow beetle) as the invertebrate pest and rabbit as the vertebrate pest, although other major pest species of SRC willows will be considered in the future. The first project phase will investigate: (1) the identity of compounds in the willow host to which beetles and rabbits respond; (2) variation occurring in the willow hosts with respect to these compounds (among varieties, for single varieties in different environments) and (3) variation in the beetle populations with respect to genetic composition and feeding preferences. The second phase will: (4) investigate further differences (e.g. heritability and environmental effects) found among beetle populations (5) identify super-resistant or susceptible types among newer varieties; (6) investigate annual and seasonal changes in susceptibility to pest damage in relation to variations in leaf and bark chemistry (7) examine tolerance and responses (induced chemical defence) of willow varieties to leaf damage and (8) identify compounds that may affect beetle behaviour during and after feeding. The final phase (9) will test the robustness of polyclonal planting regimes on beetle and rabbit pests. The benefits of the strategy on the economics of coppice production as well as on the environment should also be examined. The objectives support the policies of the Rural England Development Plan with respect to encouraging farmers to grow energy crops productively.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 22/12/11