Effects of Plant Invasion on Arthropods


This year alone has been an interesting year for invasion biology, in particular the fact that three review papers have been published that discuss the effects of invasive plants on arthropod communities.

Bezemer TM, Harvey JA, Cronin JT (2014). Response of native insects to invasive plants. Annual Review of Entomology 59: 119-141.

Litt, A. R., Cord, E. E., T. E. Fulbright, and G. L. Schuster. 2014. Effects of invasive plants on arthropods:  A review. Conservation Biology. (Available for early viewing at: http://www.montana.edu/litt/publications.html)

van Hengstum T, D.A.P. Hooftman, J.G.B. Oostermeijer, and P.H. van Tienderen. 2014. Impact of plant invasions on local arthropod communities: a meta-analysis. Journal of Ecology 102: 4-11.

All three articles highlight gaps in our current understanding on how invasive plants affect arthropod communities. Given our understanding to our insects influence ecosystem services, I think it may be important to highlight these impacts to our fellow peers and collaborators so that we can attempt to address these issues and guide management decisions. In the future, I will be trying to conduct research on some of these areas, and welcome any thoughts or collaborations in the future.

Some gaps of note are as follows:

- A lack of taxonomic resolution to the effects of plant invasion on arthropods at a familial or species level (especially in taxa outside of Insecta)

- Mechanisms behind how plant invasion effects arthropods at certain functional groups (i.e. how fitness, life history, or behavior of predators and parasitoids are affected by invasive plants)

- How changes in arthropod communities following plant invasion affect organisms at other trophic levels, particularly in taxa that depend on arthropods for food.

I welcome any discussion on these papers and future directions for how we as entomologists attempt to conserve and restore the biodiversity and ecosystem services arthropods provide in the face of invasion.

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