Keep your friends close and your enemies closer: the use of biological control for the management of invasive aquatic weeds in Belgium.

Project Details


Due to global trade the number of alien species has exponentially increased, a trend that is especially evident in aquatic ecosystems. To date, more than 400 alien aquatic and semi-aquatic plant species for aquarium or pond purposes are in trade in Europe causing a diverse impact on aquatic biodiversity. Belgium is the fourth most invaded country with 26 alien aquatic plants. Mechanical control
methods are the most widely used measures to control invasive alien aquatic plants (IAAPs) in Europe. However, the success varies considerably between growth forms and between different habitats. Biological control – the use of herbivorous insects to reduce plant density - is recognised as a sustainable, cost-effective alternative for the long-term management of IAAPs. This method is currently underutilised and under-investigated in Belgium. The goal of the project is to select, study and test biocontrol agents for the management of four target IAAPs. Azolla filiculoides, Ludwigia grandiflora and Crassula helmsii are widespread invasive species in Europe (including Belgium), while Iris pseudacorus is invasive in our collaborating countries (South Africa and Argentina). We will use a combination of ecological surveys, phylogenetic analysis and comparative studies to strengthen our understanding of these four species in order to implement a biological control programme in the long-term.
Effective start/end date1/11/191/10/23


  • Freshwater ecology
  • Invasion biology
  • Biological control

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Plant ecology
  • Invasion biology


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