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RESEARCH PROJECTS AT EBCL

 

Alan Kirk is an entomologist with 32 years of biological control experience in temperate, mediterranean and tropical areas in more than 50 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Pacific area. He has published 47 papers, book chapters and reports on biological control of pest insects and weeds.

 

He has made important contributions to the following successful Biological Control programs in Australia: Control of Sirex woodwasp ($15 million annual savings); Control of Skeleton weed, ($250 million annual benefits) and Paterson's Curse, ($50 million potential annual savings); Biological recycling of cattle dung in Australia (potential annual savings are very high in terms of increased soil fertility and fly control).

 

In 1992-1997, Kirk, as lead scientist of the USDA biocontrol programme of Sweet Potato Whitefly (SPWF) surveyed 25 countries for SPWF natural enemies. More than 100 shipments consisting of hundred's of thousands of beneficial insect predators and parasitoids and fungal pathogens of SPWF were sent to the US for assessment as biocontrol agents. Three Aphelinid species from Spain, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have been widely released in Arizona, California and Texas. This work was carried out in collaboration with Dr John Goolsby then at USDA/APHIS, Mission Biocontrol laboratory, Texas.

 

In collaboration with USDA/APHIS Kirk (1996-1999) has collected and shipped Pink Hibiscus Mealybug natural enemies from Australia, Benin, Canary Islands, China, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sicily, South Africa, Tunisia as part of a highly successful biocontrol program. Currently Kirk, in cooperation with US and European counterparts is working on the biocontrol of Plutella xylostella, Diamondback moth, Pink Hibiscus Mealybug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus and the invasive weed Tamarix sp.