About the Center for Invasive Species Research

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The Center for Invasive Species Research Team

The Center for Invasive Species Research based on the University of California Riverside Campus provides a forward-looking approach to managing invasions in California by exotic pests and diseases. It is well recognized that inadvertent introductions of exotic insect pests, plant diseases, weeds, and other noxious organisms (e.g., exotic crabs and mussels) provides a major and continuing threat to California's agricultural, urban, and natural environments as well as the State's precious supplies of fresh water.

California acquires one new exotic species, on average, every 60 days. At this rate, around six new species establish in California each year. Estimated losses arising from the uncontrolled population growth of these pests amounts to an estimated $3 billion per annum. The problems caused by invasive species in California are likely to worsen as population growth continues and imports from an ever increasing diversity of countries accelerates. In California, agriculture has suffered immense damage from such exotics as cottony cushion scale, a variety of hard and softscales; mealybugs; whiteflies; aphids; the glassy-winged sharpshooter, and Diaprepes root weevil. The most recently established insect is the light brown apple moth, an extremely serious quarantine pest, attacking plants of agricultural, urban, and natural importance. California's unique natural areas are degraded by invasive weeds (e.g., yellow star thistle, saltcedar, and arundo), and freshwater supplies are threatened by invasive mussels (e.g., zebra and quagga mussels).

The state's urban areas are under assault by Formosan termites, yellow jacket wasps, Africanized honey bees, Diaprepes root weevil, and insects that damage and kill eucalyptus, an important urban shade tree. Aquatic environments (marine and freshwater) are under threat from exotic water weeds (floating and submerged), invasive crustaceans, worms, and mollusks.

California's unique wilderness areas are not immune to invasion. These vulnerable areas are being degraded by Mediterranean weeds that have established in arid desert areas, invasive trees that are out competing native species for scarce water resources, and exotic vertebrates that destroy fragile soils and reduce survival rates of young native plants. Exotic insects and diseases kill native forest trees and California oaks and pines have experienced the most damage from these invaders.

The long-term goal of the Center for Invasive Species Research is to develop a systematic methodology for dealing with such exotic pests in areas of: (a) risk assessment; (b) early detection and invasion pathway analysis; (c) rapid development of control or eradication measures; (d) improved Integrated Pest Management practices through biological, microbial, genetic, and chemical practices; (e) better understanding of patterns and processes facilitating invasion success and failure, and (f), in the longer term, exploring the possibilities of transgenic biological manipulations to control or eradicate invasive species.

A major component of the Center's efforts will relate to the economic, ecological, and sociological effects of exotic pest introductions on the well being of the burgeoning demography of California. An important role of the Center is to foster cooperation and coordination of research efforts among the UC campuses, USDA, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), conservation organizations (e.g., California Invasive Plants Council), and the agricultural industry. Several Departments at UC Riverside are well positioned to train graduate students in all aspects of invasive pest management and invasion processes. Many faculty currently have active research programs in these areas and have undergraduate and graduate students, along with post-doctoral researchers and research associates working on various projects related to invasive species.

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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CISR Information

Center for Invasive Species Research
Chapman Hall, Room 108A

Mark Hoddle
Director of the Center for Invasive Species Research
Tel: (951) 827-4714
E-mail: cisr@ucr.edu