Working at RAIZ for 20 years, Carlos Valente is a biologist in the area of Plant Protection Research and Development. His training and extensive knowledge are fundamental to the functions he performs in the area of pest and forest disease control.
Carlos Valente´s PhD thesis deals with the biological control of the eucalyptus weevil (whose scientific name is Gonipterus platensis), a defoliator insect that severely affects the Iberian eucalyptus forest. Being an insect native from Australia, it doesn’t have in Portugal natural enemies that help to control its populations.
This thesis examines the economic impact of the pest in Portugal, the economic gain that resulted from the introduction of an Australian natural enemy (called Anaphes nitens) and the possibility of using other insects to help control the pest. It is concluded that the weevil has caused almost 650 million euros in wood loss at the national level in the last 20 years. However, losses would be 4 to 11 times higher if the Australian natural enemy had not been introduced.
In Australia, there are still other natural enemies of the weevil with potential to be used in Portugal. One of these insects (Anaphes inexpectatus) has been studied under laboratory conditions in this thesis, concluding that its introduction into nature is environmentally safe and could contribute to reduce the weevil populations.
Three scientific articles have been published in international journals, and another one is in the publication phase.