Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 379–388 | Cite as

Testing the enemy release hypothesis: a comparison of foliar insect herbivory of the exotic Norway maple (Acer platanoides L.) and the native sugar maple (A. saccharum L.)

  • C. L. Cincotta
  • J. M. Adams
  • C. Holzapfel
Original Paper


Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is a Eurasian introduced tree species which has invaded the North American range of its native congener, sugar maple (A. saccharum). One hypothesis used to explain the success of an invasive species is the enemy release hypothesis (ERH), which states that invasive species are often particularly successful in their new range because they lack the enemies of their native range. In this study, we hypothesized that Norway maple would have less insect damage than sugar maple due to such enemy release. Autumn 2005 and summer 2006 leaves of Norway and sugar maple were collected from six sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to compare percent leaf area loss, gall damage, fungal damage, and specific leaf area (cm2/g). Although both species had low overall mean levels of leaf damage (0.4–2.5%), in both years/seasons Norway maple had significantly less leaf damage than sugar maple. Insects were also collected to compare insect assemblies present on each tree species. The numbers of insect taxa and individuals found on each species were nearly equivalent. Overall, the results of this study are consistent with the enemy release hypothesis for Norway maple. In addition, sugar maples when surrounded by Norway maples tended to show reduced herbivory. This suggests that the spread of Norway maple in North America, by reducing amounts of insect herbivory, may have further ecosystem-wide impacts.


Acer platanoides Enemy release hypothesis ERH North America Herbivory 



We would like to thank Sara Webb (Drew University), Jose-Luis Machado (Swarthmore College), and Nora Wagner (Duke Farms) for providing access to sites used in this research. Thanks to Terry Malcolm for providing much needed guidance in the statistical aspect of this work and to Vincent Koczurik for assisting in insect identification. We would also like to thank Yangjian Zhang, Jack Chapman, Melanie Kaeser, and Mary Killilea, for their support and assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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