Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 455–466 | Cite as

No evolution of increased competitive ability or decreased allocation to defense in Melaleuca quinquenervia since release from natural enemies

  • Steven J. Franks
  • Paul D. Pratt
  • F. Allen Dray
  • Ellen L. Simms
Original Paper


If invasive plants are released from natural enemies in their introduced range, they may evolve decreased allocation to defense and increased growth, as predicted by the evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA) hypothesis. A field experiment using the invasive tree Melaleuca quinquenervia was conducted to test this hypothesis. Seeds were collected from 120 maternal trees: 60 in Florida (introduced range) and 60 in Australia (home range). Plants grown from these seeds were either subjected to herbivory by two insects from Australia that have recently been released as biological control agents or protected from herbivores using insecticides. Genotypes from the introduced range were initially more attractive to herbivores than genotypes from the home range, supporting EICA. However, genotypes from the introduced and home range did not differ in resistance to insects or in competitive ability, which does not support EICA. Plants from the introduced range had a lower leaf hair density, lower leaf: stem mass ratio, and a higher ratio of nerolidol: viridifloral chemotypes compared to plants from the native range. Plants with an intermediate density of leaf hairs and with high specific leaf area were more susceptible to herbivory damage, but there were no effects of leaf toughness or chemotype on presence of and damage by insects. Herbivory had a negative impact on performance of Melaleuca. Other than an initial preference by insects for introduced genotypes, there was no evidence for the evolution of decreased defense or increased competitive ability, as predicted by the EICA hypothesis. It does not appear from this study that the EICA hypothesis explains patterns of recent trait evolution in Melaleuca.


Boreioglycaspis melaleucae EICA hypothesis Florida Everglades Herbivory Invasive species Oxyops vitiosa Plant defense traits Plant–insect interactions Weed biological control 



We thank Sigfredo Gonzales, Jenna Scheidegger and Marguerite Stetson for help with all field and laboratory work. Jim Harper, Courtny Hopen, Robin Johnson and Scott Wiggers assisted with transplanting seedlings. Matthew Purcell (CSIRO) provided seeds from Australia. Greg Wheeler and Kelly MacDonald helped with plant chemistry analysis. Three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments. This research was funded by a USDA/ARS area-wide management grant awarded to PD Pratt.


  1. Agrawal AA, Kotanen PM (2003) Herbivores and the success of exotic plants: a phylogenetically controlled experiment. Ecol Lett 6:712–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agrawal AA, Kotanen PM, Mitchell CE, Power AG, Godsoe W, Klironomos J (2005) Enemy release? An experiment with congeneric plant pairs and diverse above- and belowground enemies. Ecology 86:2979–2989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Begum FA, Paul NK (1993) Influence of soil moisture on growth, water-use and yield of mustard. J Agron Crop Sci 170:136–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blossey B, Nötzold R (1995) Evolution of increased competitive ability in invasive non-indigenous plants: a hypothesis. J Ecol 83:887–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bossdorf O, Auge H, Lafuma L, Rogers WE, Siemann E, Prati D (2005) Phenotypic and genetic differentiation between native and introduced plant populations. Oecologia 144:1–11PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burrows DW, Balciunas JK (1999) Host-range and distribution of Eucerocoris suspectus, a potential biological control agent for paperback tree Melaleuca quinquenervia. Environ Entomol 28:290–299Google Scholar
  7. Caswell H (2001) Matrix population models: construction, analysis, and interpretation. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  8. Center TD, Van TK, Rayachhetry M, Buckingham GR, Dray FA, Wineriter SA, Purcell MF, Pratt PD (2000) Field colonization of the melaleuca snout beetle (Oxyops vitiosa) in south Florida. Biol Control 19:112–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen E, Gerber JF (1991) Climate. In: Meyers RL, Ewel JJ (eds) Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando, pp 11–34Google Scholar
  10. Choong MF (1996) What makes a leaf tough and how this affects the pattern of Castanopsis fissa leaf consumption by caterpillars. Funct Ecol 10:668–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Colautti RI, Ricciardi A, Grigorovich IA, MacIsaac HJ (2004) Is invasion success explained by the enemy release hypothesis? Ecol Lett 7:721–733CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Costello SL, Pratt PD, Rayamajhi MB, Center TD (2003) Arthropods associated with above-ground portions of the invasive tree, Melaleuca quinquenervia, in south Florida, USA. Fla Entomol 86:300–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cox GW (1999) Alien species in North America and Hawaii: impacts on natural ecosystems. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  14. Daehler CC, Strong DR (1997) Hybridization between introduced smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora; Poaceae) and native California cordgrass (S. foliosa) in San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Am J Bot 84:607–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeWalt SJ, Denslow JS, Ickes K (2004a) Natural enemy release facilitates habitat expansion of the invasive tropical shrub Clidemia hirta. Ecology 85:471–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeWalt SJ, Denslow JS, Hamrick JL (2004b) Biomass allocation, growth, and photosynthesis of genotypes from native and introduced ranges of the tropical shrub Clidemia hirta. Oecologia 138:521–531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doak DF (1992) Lifetime impacts of herbivory for a perennial plant. Ecology 73:2086–2099CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Doss RP, Shanks CH, Chamberlain JD, Garth JKL (1987) Role of leaf hairs in resistance of a clone of beach strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis, to feeding by adult black vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae). Environ Entomol 16:764–768Google Scholar
  19. Dray FA (2003) Ecological genetics of Melaleuca quinquenervia (Myrtaceae): population variation in Florida and its influence on performance of the biological control agent Oxyops vitiosa (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Dissertation, Florida International UniversityGoogle Scholar
  20. Dray FA, Bennett BC, Center TD, Wheeler GS, Madeira PT (2004) Genetic variation in Melaleuca quinquenervia affects the biocontrol agent Oxyops vitiosa. Weed Technol 18:1400–1402Google Scholar
  21. Etterson JR, Shaw RG (2001) Constraint to adaptive evolution in response to global warming. Science 294:151–154PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ezcurra E, Gomez JC, Becerra J (1987) Diverging patterns of host use by phytophagous insects in relation to leaf pubescence in Arbutus xalapensis (Ericaceae). Oecologia 72:479–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Franks SJ, Pratt PD, Dray FA, Simms EL (2004) Selection for resistance in invasive plants. Weed Technol 18:1486–1489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franks SJ, Kral AM, Pratt PD (2006) Herbivory by introduced insects reduces growth and survival of Melaleuca quinquenervia seedlings. Ecol Entomol 35:366–372Google Scholar
  25. Fritz RS, Simms EL (1992) Plant resistance to herbivores and pathogens. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  26. Karban R, Myers JH (1989) Induced plant responses to herbivory. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 20:331–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaufman SR, Smouse PE (2001) Comparing indigenous and introduced populations of Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) Blake: response of seedlings to water and pH levels. Oecologia 127:487–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keane RM, Crawley MJ (2002) Exotic plant invasions and the enemy release hypothesis. Trends Ecol Evol 17:164–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kudo G (2003) Variations in leaf traits and susceptibility to insect herbivory within a Salix miyabeana population under field conditions. Plant Ecol 169:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Levin DA (1973) Role of trichomes in plant defense. Q Rev Biol 48:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Liu F, Stutzel H (2004) Biomass partitioning, specific leaf area, and water use efficiency of vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) in response to drought stress. Sci Hortic 102:15–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meskimen GF (1962) A silvical study of the melaleuca tree in south Florida. Dissertation, University of FloridaGoogle Scholar
  33. Mooney HA, Hobbs RJ (2000) Invasive species in a changing world. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. Pratt PD, Wineriter S, Center TD, Rayamajhi MB, Van TK (2004) Boreioglycaspis melaleucae. In: Coombs JK, Piper GL, Cofrancesco AF (eds) Biological control of invasive plants in the United States. Oregon State University, Corvallis, pp 273–274Google Scholar
  35. Pratt PD, Rayamajhi MB, Van TK, Center TD, Tipping PW (2005) Herbivory alters resource allocation and compensation in the invasive tree Melaleuca quinquenervia. Ecol Entomol 30:316–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rayachhetry MB, Van TK, Center TD, Laroche F (2001) Dry weight estimation of the above ground components of Melaleuca quinquenervia trees in southern Florida. For Ecol Manage 142:281–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rogers WE, Siemann E (2004) Invasive ecotypes tolerate herbivory more effectively than native ecotypes of the Chinese tallow tree Sapium sebiferum. J Appl Ecol 41:561–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rossman AY (2001) A special issue on global movement of invasive plants and fungi. Bioscience 51:93–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schoener TW (1988) Leaf damage in island buttonwood, Conocarpus erectus—correlations with pubescence, island area, isolation and the distribution of major carnivores. Oikos 53:253–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Serbesoff-King K (2003) Melaleuca in Florida: a literature review on the taxonomy, distribution, biology, ecology, economic importance and control measures. J Aquat Plant Manage 41:98–112Google Scholar
  41. Shea K, Kelly D (1998) Estimating biocontrol agent impact with matrix models: Carduus nutans in New Zealand. Ecol Appl 8:824–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Siemann E, Rogers WE (2001) Genetic differences in growth of an invasive species. Ecol Lett 4:514–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stastny M, Schaffner U, Elle E (2005) Do vigour of introduced populations and escape from specialist herbivores contribute to invasiveness? J Ecol 93:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tipping PW, Center TD (2002) Evaluating acephate for insecticide exclusion of Oxyops vitiosa (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) from Melaleuca quinquenervia. Fla Entomol 85:458–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thébaud C, Simberloff D (2001) Are plants really larger in their introduced ranges? Am Nat 157:231–236CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Turner CE, Center TD, Burrows DW, Buckingham GR (1998) Ecology and management of Melaleuca quinquenervia, an invader of wetlands in Florida, U.S.A. J Aquat Plant Manage 5:165–178Google Scholar
  47. van Kleunen M, Schmid B (2003) No evidence for an evolutionary increased competitive ability in an invasive plant. Ecology 84:2816–2823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vardaman SM (1994) The reproductive ecology of Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) Blake. Dissertation, Florida International UniversityGoogle Scholar
  49. Vilá M, Gómez A, Maron J (2003) Are alien plants more competitive than their native conspecifics? A test using Hypericum perforatum L. Oecologia 137:211–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wheeler GS (2001) Host plant quality factors that influence the growth and development of Oxyops vitiosa, a biological control agent of Melaleuca quinquenervia. Biol Control 22:256–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Willis AJ, Blossey B (1999) Benign environments do not explain the increased vigour of non-indigenous plants: a cross-continental transplant experiment. Biocontrol Sci Technol 9:567–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Willis AJ, Thomas MB, Lawton JH (1999) Is the increased vigour of invasive weeds explained by a trade-off between growth and herbivore resistance? Oecologia 120:632–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Willis AJ, Memmott J, Forrester RI (2000) Is there evidence for the post-invasion evolution of increased size among invasive plant species? Ecol Lett 3:275–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Franks
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul D. Pratt
    • 1
  • F. Allen Dray
    • 1
  • Ellen L. Simms
    • 3
  1. 1.Invasive Plant Research Lab, United States Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research ServiceFt. LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesFordham UniversityBronxUSA
  3. 3.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations