Tolerance to herbivory, and not resistance, may explain differential success of invasive, naturalized, and native North American temperate vines


I Ashton
M Lerdau

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Diversity and Distributions


Numerous hypotheses suggest that natural enemies can influence the dynamics of biological invasions. Here, we use a group of 12 related native, invasive, and naturalized vines to test the relative importance of resistance and tolerance to herbivory in promoting biological invasions. In a field experiment in Long Island, New York, we excluded mammal and insect herbivores and examined plant growth and foliar damage over two growing seasons. This novel approach allowed us to compare the relative damage from mammal and insect herbivores and whether damage rates were related to invasion. In a greenhouse experiment, we simulated herbivory through clipping and measured growth response. After two seasons of excluding herbivores, there was no difference in relative growth rates among invasive, naturalized, and native woody vines, and all vines were susceptible to damage from mammal and insect herbivores. Thus, differential attack by herbivores and plant resistance to herbivory did not explain invasion success of these species. In the field, where damage rates were high, none of the vines were able to fully compensate for damage from mammals. However, in the greenhouse, we found that invasive vines were more tolerant of simulated herbivory than native and naturalized relatives. Our results indicate that invasive vines are not escaping herbivory in the novel range, rather they are persisting despite high rates of herbivore damage in the field. While most studies of invasive plants and natural enemies have focused on resistance, this work suggests that tolerance may also play a large role in facilitating invasions.