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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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

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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

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