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Biological Invasions

, 13:2167 | Cite as

Natural and human dimensions of a quasi-wild species: the case of kudzu

  • Zhenyu Li
  • Quan Dong
  • Thomas P. Albright
  • Qinfeng Guo
Perpectives and Paradigms

Abstract

The human dimensions of biotic invasion are generally poorly understood, even among the most familiar invasive species. Kudzu (Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr.) is a prominent invasive plant and an example of quasi-wild species, which has experienced repeated introduction, cultivation, and escape back to the wild. Here, we review a large body of primary scientific and historic records spanning thousands of years to characterize the complex relationships among kudzu, its natural enemies, and humans, and provide a synthesis and conceptual model relevant to the ecology and management of quasi-wild invasive species. We documented over 350, mostly insect, natural enemy species and their impacts on kudzu in its native East Asian range. These natural enemies play a minor role in limiting kudzu in its native range, rarely generating severe impacts on populations of wild kudzu. We identified a number of significant influences of humans including dispersal, diverse cultural selection, and facilitation through disturbances, which catalyzed the expansion and exuberance of kudzu. On the other hand, harvest by humans appears to be the major control mechanism in its native areas. Humans thus have a complex relationship with kudzu. They have acted as both friend and foe, affecting the distribution and abundance of kudzu in ways that vary across its range and over time. Our conceptual model of kudzu emphasizes the importance of multiple human dimensions in shaping the biogeography of a species and illustrates how kudzu and other quasi-wild species are more likely to be successful invaders.

Keywords

Control mechanisms Human domestication Invasive species Natural enemy Pueraria montana Utilization 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Wang Zunguo of Nanjing Museum for the archaeological information about kudzu, Yu Peiyu, Li Hongchang, Zhang Chunxian, and Zhou Hongzhang of Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences identified some insects; Zhuang Jianyun of Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences identified fungal species, and provided literature. GE Jianjun of Institute of Animal and Plant Quarantine, Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine provided the references on nematodes, K. Oono at Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba helped literature collection of the insect that consume kudzu. James Vogelmann, Alisa Gallant, Shili Miao and Tim Lewis provided helpful comments. This study was supported in part by the Key Project of the National Basic Research of China (Grant 2006CB403206). T. P. Albright acknowledges support from National Science Foundation, Cooperative Agreement EPS-0814372. Q. Guo was supported by NSF grant 0640058.

Supplementary material

10530_2011_42_MOESM1_ESM.doc (478 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 479 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.(outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhenyu Li
    • 1
  • Quan Dong
    • 2
  • Thomas P. Albright
    • 3
  • Qinfeng Guo
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Chinese Academy of SciencesInstitute of BotanyBeijingChina
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyFort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  4. 4.USDA FSEastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment CenterAshevilleUSA

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