Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Towards a phylogenetic ecology of plant pests and pathogens.

Abstract

Plant-pathogens and insect pests, hereafter pests, play an important role in structuring ecological communities, yet both native and introduced pests impose significant pressure on wild and managed systems, and pose a threat to food security. Global changes in climate and land use, and transportation of plants and pests around the globe are likely to further increase the range, frequency and severity of pest outbreaks in the future. Thus, there is a critical need to expand on current ecological theory to address these challenges. Here, we outline a phylogenetic framework for the study of plant and pest interactions. In plants, a growing body of work has suggested that evolutionary relatedness, phylogeny, strongly structures plant-pest associations-from pest host breadths and impacts, to their establishment and spread in new regions. Understanding the phylogenetic dimensions of plant-pest associations will help to inform models of invasive species spread, disease and pest risk in crops, and emerging pest outbreaks in native plant communities-which will have important implications for protecting food security and biodiversity into the future.