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Enemy Release? An Experiment with Congeneric Plant Pairs and Diverse above- and Belowground Enemies

Anurag A. Agrawal, Peter M. Kotanen, Charles E. Mitchell, Alison G. Power, William Godsoe and John Klironomos
Ecology
Vol. 86, No. 11 (Nov., 2005), pp. 2979-2989
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3450811
Page Count: 11
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Enemy Release? An Experiment with Congeneric Plant Pairs and Diverse above- and Belowground Enemies
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Abstract

Several hypotheses proposed to explain the success of introduced species focus on altered interspecific interactions. One of the most prominent, the Enemy Release Hypothesis, posits that invading species benefit compared to their native counterparts if they lose their herbivores and pathogens during the invasion process. We previously reported on a common garden experiment (from 2002) in which we compared levels of herbivory between 30 taxonomically paired native and introduced old-field plants. In this phylogenetically controlled comparison, herbivore damage tended to be higher on introduced than on native plants. This striking pattern, the opposite of current theory, prompted us to further investigate herbivory and several other interspecific interactions in a series of linked experiments with the same set of species. Here we show that, in these new experiments, introduced plants, on average, received less insect herbivory and were subject to half the negative soil microbial feedback compared to natives; attack by fungal and viral pathogens also tended to be reduced on introduced plants compared to natives. Although plant traits (foliar C:N, toughness, and water content) suggested that introduced species should be less resistant to generalist consumers, they were not consistently more heavily attacked. Finally, we used meta-analysis to combine data from this study with results from our previous work to show that escape generally was inconsistent among guilds of enemies: there were few instances in which escape from multiple guilds occurred for a taxonomic pair, and more cases in which the patterns of escape from different enemies canceled out. Our examination of multiple interspecific interactions demonstrates that escape from one guild of enemies does not necessarily imply escape from other guilds. Because the effects of each guild are likely to vary through space and time, the net effect of all enemies is also likely to be variable. The net effect of these interactions may create "invasion opportunity windows": times when introduced species make advances in native communities.

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