Body size and the rate of spread of invasive ladybird beetles in North America
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- Hemptinne, JL., Magro, A., Evans, E.W. et al. Biol Invasions (2012) 14: 595. doi:10.1007/s10530-011-0101-0
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Invasive species are distinguished by their rate of spread and this is thought to be associated with the ability to produce many offspring. However, it is possible that many studies do not succeed in highlighting a positive correlation between invasiveness and reproductive rate because they lack an allometric perspective. Information on the ladybird beetles introduced into North America and data on life-history traits of 30 species of ladybird beetles were used to search for a relationship between ability to invade and traits related to reproduction and dispersal. We analyzed the mechanisms responsible for the rate of spread of invasive species of the aphidophagous species of ladybird introduced into North America that became established and spread. The two largest species extended their range an order of magnitude faster than the other species. The potential reproductive rate and the speed of movement are both positively correlated with body mass, which appears to be a good predictor of the ability to spread and colonize new territory. Further studies of invasive species should therefore include an allometric perspective in order to allow comparisons between species and an assessment of the influence of reproduction and dispersal potential on the rate with which they spread when exploiting highly suitable habitats.