, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 407-419
Date: 08 Nov 2009

Exotic vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores differ in their impacts on native and exotic plants: a meta-analysis


Herbivores modify various ecological processes including interactions between native and exotic plants that may affect invasion success by the exotic plants. It is unknown whether different types of exotic herbivores have similar effects on native and exotic plants. Using two distinct data sets, we ran meta-analyses to compare exotic vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore preferences for, and effects on performance and population sizes of native and exotic plants. We found that exotic vertebrate herbivores have positive effects on exotic plant performance and population sizes, and no significant effects on native plants. Exotic invertebrates have significant negative effects on performance and population sizes of both exotic and native plants. Vertebrates prefer to feed on native plants relative to exotic plants, while invertebrates prefer the exotic plants to native plants. Thus the exotic vertebrate herbivores may aid invasiveness of exotic plants, in accordance with the invasional meltdown hypothesis, while exotic invertebrate herbivores probably have no net effect on invasion process of the exotic plants. Invertebrate herbivore preferences for exotic plants support the biotic resistance hypothesis, as the native plants probably resist the invertebrate herbivory. We also tested an evolutionary logic that posits that herbivores with similar evolutionary history as plants will affect the plants less negatively than plants with which they have not co-evolved. Our results indicate that there is no consistent pattern in effects of exotic vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores on exotic plants with or without which they have co-evolved.