Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Genetic and morphological variation of Vespa velutina nigrithorax which is an invasive species in a mountainous area.

Abstract

The yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an invasive species in South Korea with negative economic, ecological, and public health impacts. We investigated genetic and morphological variation in the species populations on Mt. Jiri, the tallest mountain in South Korea. We hypothesized that a high-altitude would be negatively correlated with the genetic diversity of the hornet population, and hornet wing morphology would change with an increase in altitude. Our results showed that the genetic diversity of yellow-legged hornets did not decrease as altitude increased. Regardless of the altitude, the inbreeding coefficient was high at the newly colonized sites. A single genetic population occurred in the mountainous areas examined and gradually expanded its range. Wing morphology, especially shape, did not change with an increase in altitude or decrease in temperature. Although snow cover and cool temperatures at high altitudes could limit nest-building activities, they did not prevent the extension of the range of the species. Therefore, the yellow-legged hornet cannot be controlled naturally by climate or topography; combined approaches, including chemical control, nest removal, and bait-trapping techniques should be implemented.