Herbivore resistance of invasive Fallopia species and their hybrids
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- Krebs, C., Gerber, E., Matthies, D. et al. Oecologia (2011) 167: 1041. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2035-8
Hybridization has been proposed as a mechanism by which exotic plants can increase their invasiveness. By generating novel recombinants, hybridization may result in phenotypes that are better adapted to the new environment than their parental species. We experimentally assessed the resistance of five exotic Fallopia taxa, F. japonica var. japonica, F. sachalinensis and F. baldschuanica, the two hybrids F. × bohemica and F. × conollyana, and the common European plants Rumexobtusifolius and Taraxacumofficinale to four native European herbivores, the slug Arion lusitanicus, the moth Noctua pronuba, the grasshopper Metrioptera roeselii and the beetle Gastrophysa viridula. Leaf area consumed and relative growth rate of the herbivores differed significantly between the Fallopia taxa and the native species, as well as among the Fallopia taxa, and was partly influenced by interspecific variation in leaf morphology and physiology. Fallopia japonica, the most abundant Fallopia taxon in Europe, showed the highest level of resistance against all herbivores tested. The level of resistance of the hybrids compared to that of their parental species varied depending on hybrid taxon and herbivore species. Genotypes of the hybrid F. × bohemica varied significantly in herbivore resistance, but no evidence was found that hybridization has generated novel recombinants that are inherently better defended against resident herbivores than their parental species, thereby increasing the hybrid’s invasion success. In general, exotic Fallopia taxa showed higher levels of herbivore resistance than the two native plant species, suggesting that both parental and hybrid Fallopia taxa largely escape from herbivory in Europe.