Chromolaena odorata invasion in Nigeria: A case for coordinated biological control
Management of Biological Invasions
Chromolaena odorata (L.) King and Robinson (Asteraceae: Eupatorieae) is an invasive perennial weedy scrambling shrub of neotropical origin, widely acknowledged as a major economic and ecological burden to many tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Nigeria. Here, we examine the invasion and management of C. odorata in Nigeria over the last seven decades using historical records and field surveys and ask: (i) Does the usefulness of C. odorata influence its invasion success? (ii)
... asion success? (ii) Is a coordinated control approach against C. odorata needed in the face of its usefulness or do we need to develop strategies for its adaptive management? We searched major institutional libraries in Nigeria and carried out extensive research of historical records using different data base platforms, including Google Scholar, Science Direct, ISI web of Science, SciFinders and Scopus. Apart from the biological invasive characteristics of C. odorata and the increased anthropogenic disturbances occurring over the time period, the records indicate that the ethno-pharmacological, funcigicidal, nematicidal importance of the plant and its use as a fallow species and as a soil fertility improvement plant in the slash and burn rotation system of agriculture is partly responsible for the invasion success of the weed. The current distribution and infestation levels of this invasive weed in Nigeria are mapped. The current methods of control and the failed attempt made by the Nigerian government to eradicate the weed between the late 1960s and 1970s are discussed. We argue that even in the face of the usefulness of C. odorata, it is reasonable to implement a nationwide coordinated control programme against it with biological control as a core component, because weed biological control does not eliminate the target species, instead it aims to establish an equilibrium which maintains the weed's population below the level where it causes significant harm to natural and semi-natural ecosystems.