Biological Control of Pests
Recommended Year Level: Years 7 and 9 Required Knowledge: Little Duration: 2 x 50 minute lessons
If you have been to some of the islands off Tasmania where rabbits and foxes have not been introduced, the first thing you notice is the diverse birdlife flitting freely in the grasslands. It's a stark reminder of the impact of introduced species on the mainland.
One application of biotechnology is biological control – attempting to eradicate introduced plant or animal pests (such as prickly pear and rabbits), or to reduce the harm they do to the environment. Being an island continent makes such an exercise conceivable, but what can we do to re-establish diversity? Which year should we take as the starting point for measuring diversity?
In Australia, our native plants and animals have adapted to life on an isolated continent over millions of years. However, particularly since European settlement, our native animals have had to compete with a range of introduced animals for food, habitat and shelter.
Some of our native species have also had to face new predators. Rapid changes in land usage, such as increased crop growing areas, have also affected our soils and waterways.