Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Chemical novelty facilitates herbivore resistance and biological invasions in some introduced plant species.

Abstract

Ecological release from herbivory due to chemical novelty is commonly predicted to facilitate biological invasions by plants, but has not been tested on a community scale. We used metabolomics based on mass spectrometry molecular networks to assess the novelty of foliar secondary chemistry of 15 invasive plant species compared to 46 native species at a site in eastern North America. Locally, invasive species were more chemically distinctive than natives. Among the 15 invasive species, the more chemically distinct were less preferred by insect herbivores and less browsed by deer. Finally, an assessment of invasion frequency in 2,505 forest plots in the Atlantic coastal plain revealed that, regionally, invasive species that were less preferred by insect herbivores, less browsed by white-tailed deer, and chemically distinct relative to the native plant community occurred more frequently in survey plots. Our results suggest that chemically mediated release from herbivores contributes to many successful invasions.