Differences in growth and herbivory damage of native and invasive kudzu (Peuraria montana var. lobata) populations grown in the native range.
The invasion success of exotic plants is often attributed to escape from natural enemies in their introduced ranges and subsequent evolutionary change in resource allocation from defense to growth and reproduction. We tested this idea by comparing resistance, tolerance, and growth between native (China) and invasive (US) populations of kudzu (Peuraria montana var. lobata) exposed to natural herbivores in the native range. The percentage of foliar damage was much higher in invasive populations than in native populations, indicating that plants from invasive populations had lower resistance to herbivory. Regression of total mass on percentage of foliar damage showed no significant differences in tolerance to herbivory between native and invasive populations. However, stem diameter and mass were significantly greater in invasive populations than in native populations. Our results may suggest geographic variation in herbivory damage and plant growth among kudzu native and invasive populations, but the role of herbivores influencing kudzu invasion requires further investigation.