Does time since introduction influence enemy release of an invasive weed?

Kerinne J. Harvey, David A. Nipperess, David R. Britton, Lesley Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Release from natural enemies is considered to potentially play an important role in the initial establishment and success of introduced plants. With time, the species richness of herbivores using non-native plants may increase [species-time relationship (STR)]. We investigated whether enemy release may be limited to the early stages of invasion. Substituting space for time, we sampled invertebrates and measured leaf damage on the invasive species Senecio madagascariensis Poir. at multiple sites, north and south of the introduction site. Invertebrate communities were collected from plants in the field, and reared from collected plant tissue. We also sampled invertebrates and damage on the native congener Senecio pinnatifolius var. pinnatifolius A. Rich. This species served as a control to account for environmental factors that may vary along the latitudinal gradient and as a comparison for evaluating the enemy release hypothesis (ERH). In contrast to predictions of the ERH, greater damage and herbivore abundances and richness were found on the introduced species S. madagascariensis than on the native S. pinnatifolius. Supporting the STR, total invertebrates (including herbivores) decreased in abundance, richness and Shannon diversity from the point of introduction to the invasion fronts of S. madagascariensis. Leaf damage showed the opposite trend, with highest damage levels at the invasion fronts. Reared herbivore loads (as opposed to external collections) were greater on the invader at the point of introduction than on sites further from this region. These results suggest there is a complex relationship between the invader and invertebrate community response over time. S. madagascariensis may be undergoing rapid changes at its invasion fronts in response to environmental and herbivore pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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