Decreased resistance and increased tolerance to native herbivores of the invasive plant Sapium sebiferum

Jianwen Zou, Evan Siemann, William E. Rogers, Saara J. DeWalt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Release from natural enemies may favor invasive plants evolving traits associated with reduced herbivore-resistance and faster-growth in introduced ranges. Given a genetic trade-off between resistance and tolerance, invasive plants could also become more tolerant to herbivory than conspecifics in the native range. We conducted a field common garden study in the native range of Sapium sebiferum using seeds from native Chinese populations and invasive North American populations to compare their growth and herbivory resistance. We also performed a cage-pot experiment to compare their resistance and tolerance to Bikasha collaris beetles that are specialist feeders on S. sebiferum trees in China. Results of the common garden study showed that Sapium seedlings of invasive populations relative to native populations were more frequently attacked by native herbivores. Growth and leaf damage were significantly higher for invasive populations than for native populations. Growth of invasive populations was not significantly affected by insecticide spray, but insecticide spray benefited that of native populations. In the bioassay trial, beetles preferentially consumed leaf tissue of invasive populations compared to native populations when beetles had a choice between them. Regression of percent leaf damage on biomass showed that invasive populations tolerated herbivory more effectively than native populations. Our results suggest that S. sebiferum from the introduced range had lower resistance but higher tolerance to specialist herbivores. Both defense strategies could have evolved as a response to the escape from natural enemies in the introduced range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-671
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


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