Tamarisk biocontrol in the western United States: Ecological and societal implications

Kevin R. Hultine, Jayne Belnap, Charles Van Riper, James R. Ehleringer, Philip E. Dennison, Martha E. Lee, Pamela L. Nagler, Keirith A. Snyder, Shauna M. Uselman, Jason B. West

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Tamarisk species (genus Tamarix), also commonly known as saltcedar, are among the most successful plant invaders in the western United States. At the same time, tamarisk has been cited as having enormous economic costs. Accordingly, local, state, and federal agencies have undertaken considerable efforts to eradicate this invasive plant and restore riparian habitats to pre-invasion status. Traditional eradication methods, including herbicide treatments, are now considered undesirable, because they are costly and often have unintended negative impacts on native species. A new biological control agent, the saltcedar leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata), has been released along many watersheds in the western US, to reduce the extent of tamarisk cover in riparian areas. However, the use of this insect as a biological control agent may have unintended ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic consequences that need to be anticipated by land managers and stakeholders undertaking restoration efforts. Here, we examine the possible ramifications of tamarisk control and offer recommendations to reduce potential negative impacts on valued riparian systems in the western US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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