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Biol Lett. 2005 Dec 22;1(4):435-8.

Invasive exotic plants suffer less herbivory than non-invasive exotic plants.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6.


We surveyed naturally occurring leaf herbivory in nine invasive and nine non-invasive exotic plant species sampled in natural areas in Ontario, New York and Massachusetts, and found that invasive plants experienced, on average, 96% less leaf damage than non-invasive species. Invasive plants were also more taxonomically isolated than non-invasive plants, belonging to families with 75% fewer native North American genera. However, the relationship between taxonomic isolation at the family level and herbivory was weak. We suggest that invasive plants may possess novel phytochemicals with anti-herbivore properties in addition to allelopathic and anti-microbial characteristics. Herbivory could be employed as an easily measured predictor of the likelihood that recently introduced exotic plants may become invasive.

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