Analysis of the Biological Control of Noxious Weeds: Yellow starthistle

The invasive weed yellow starthistle (YST) (Centaurea solstitialis) and its interactions with annual grasses and herbivorous biological control agents is used to demonstrate the utility of the PBDM approach for analyzing complex invasive species problems. The PBDM model accurately predicts the distribution and relative abundance of YST across the western USA, and the results are used to assess climatic effects of temperature, rainfall, competition from grasses, and the efficacy of biocontrol efforts. Such an effort could also be used to include direct effects of rising carbon dioxide on YST biology.  A bio-economic model could be developed to show how the YST PBDM analysis can also be used to assess the biological and economic effects of climate change on YST infestation levels regionally.  Finally, we discuss the need for a unified system for assessing invasive species problems at the field, regional and global levels with the goal of enhancing the development of efficacious policy and management decisions.

Yellow Star Thistle
A PBDM/GIS analysis of the biological control of yellow starthistle showing the interacting biological control agents, the data layers and the predicted average geographic distribution and relative abundance.


Gutierrez, A.P., Pitcairn, M.J., Ellis, C.K., Carruthers, N., Ghezelbash, R., 2005. Evaluating biological control of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) in California: A GIS based supply–demand demographic model. Biological Control 34: 115-131.

Gutierrez, A.P. and L. Ponti (2014) Chapter 16 – Assessing and managing the impact of climate change on invasive species: the PBDM approach, In L. Zinka and J. Dukes (eds) Climate Change and Invasive Species, CABI, London