Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Population differentiation in response to temperature in Ophraella communa: implication for the biological control of Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

Abstract

Although biological control agents (BCAs) are an effective tool for limiting the impact of invasive alien plants (IAPs), mismatch between the BCA and IAP, exacerbated by future climate change, may affect biocontrol efficacy and the likelihood of there being non-target effects. In a common-environment experiment, we measured leaf consumption, performance (i.e. development time and adult weight), and survival in 11 populations of the leaf beetle Ophraella communa from its native (North America) and introduced (China, Europe) ranges under three temperatures treatments (20°C, 27°C, 31°C) and on two plant species, the target IAP Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) and the closely-related crop Helianthus annuus (sunflower), a potential subsidiary non-target host. Leaf consumption, development time, adult weight and survival differed significantly in the different populations without any significant geographical pattern. Specifically, there was variation in levels of survival at different temperatures between populations, with highest levels of leaf consumption and survival in the Fogang (China) population at all temperatures, while survival was highest in other populations under colder and warmer conditions. In general, we observed faster development and a marginal increase in adult weight, but decreasing survival, with increasing temperatures in all populations. The beetles consumed much more common ragweed than sunflower leaves, with no difference evident in the consumption levels on sunflower under cooler or warmer temperature conditions. Moreover, cold temperatures negatively affected the survival of beetles feeding on sunflower, potentially leading to a reduction of fitness on the non-target host. Genetic composition and diversity, assessed using microsatellite markers, showed higher allelic richness and expected heterozygosity in native US populations compared to introduced Chinese populations and lower allelic richness and expected heterozygosity in US and Italian populations at the edge of the distribution compared to core populations. Overall, Chinese populations showed low genetic diversity, likely due to releases after mass rearing. Although there were differences in genetic diversity among populations, we did not find correlations between genetic diversity and phenotypic trait means. Our results indicate that some of the populations examined might be able to cover areas that are heavily infested by common ragweed or are expected be so under climate warming but are predicted to be presently unsuitable for the beetle.