Invasion dynamics of the glassy-winged sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) in French Polynesia
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The glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar) [formerly Homalodisca coagulata (Say)] (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), has recently emerged as a serious invasive pest. From its natural range in the southeast USA and northeast Mexico, it invaded successively California (late 1980s), French Polynesia (1999), Hawaii (2004), and recently Easter Island (2005) inadvertently through the transportation of infested plants. In French Polynesia, H. vitripennis has reached impressive densities becoming an important pest threatening agriculture, native biodiversity, as well as being a major social nuisance. Since 1999, H. vitripennis spread rapidly from Tahiti to neighboring islands, colonizing most of the archipelagos of French Polynesia. In this paper, we present the results of surveys of H. vitripennis populations from 15 islands of French Polynesia and use these data to investigate the invasion dynamics and colonization processes of this pest in a tropical climate. We found H. vitripennis present in 10 islands with two new records confirmed. Our analyses suggest that: (1) H. vitripennis abundance is strongly associated with urbanization, with highest pest densities found in the most developed coastal areas of infested islands, (2) H. vitripennis may exhibit an Allee effect during the early phase of an invasion, and (3) the invasion dynamics of H. vitripennis conform to a stratified dispersal model marked by rapid long-distance human-mediated movement.
KeywordsAllee effect Stratified diffusion Urbanization Expansion range
Financial support for research on Homalodisca vitripennis has been provided by the French Polynesia Government (Convention no. 4.0328). Additional support has come from the University of California Berkeley and Riverside, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. This paper is contribution number 158 of the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station.
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