Strangers in a strange land: do life history traits differ for alien and native colonisers of novel environments?
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Do alien invasive species exhibit life history characteristics that are similar to those of native species that have become pests in their continent of origin? We compared eucalypt specialists that have become pests in Australian plantations (natives) to those that have established overseas (aliens) using 13 life history traits and found that although traits that support rapid population build-up were shared, overall, aliens and native colonisers differed significantly. Distance from source (New Zealand vs. other) had no significant effect, but species that established more than 50 years ago exhibited different life history traits from those that established within the last 50 years, possibly because of more effective quarantine. Native and alien eucalypt insect invaders differed predominantly in traits that facilitate long-distance movement (pathway traits), compared to traits that facilitate establishment and spread. Aliens had longer adult flight seasons, were smaller and more closely host-associated (cryptic eggs and larvae), had lower incidence of diapause (i.e. were more seasonally plastic) and more generations per year than natives. Thus, studies of species invasive within their country of origin can shed light on alien invasions.
KeywordsEucalypt Establishment Invasion biology Pathway
Our very sincere thanks to Drs Simon Lawson and Ross Wylie (DAFF-Q), Dr Brendan Murphy (CSIRO) and Dr Chenyuan Xu (Griffith University) for discussion and comments, and to Dr David Mayer (DAFF-Q) for additional statistical analyses. Sincere thanks also to Dr Manon Griffiths (DAFF-Q), A/Prof Martin Steinbauer (LaTrobe University), Professor David Walter (USC) and Dr Owen Seeman (Qld Museum) for additional critical comments on the manuscript.
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